Our Guest Blogger for April 2016
Dr. Valerie Allen
(Valerie is the one on the left; I’m on the right)
Licensed School Psychologist ~ Rehabilitation Counselor
Learning Is a Good Habit
Learning is an ongoing process. It’s important to find the teachable moment in each experience your child has. This is especially important during school holidays and summer vacation when children are not in a formal classroom environment. Learning does not require special or costly equipment. Teaching does not require special training or vast knowledge. Learning takes place when we encourage and support our children to think about new ideas, try new skills, and explore new relationships. Children can easily be immersed in day to day learning experiences using these suggestions.
1. Seize the Moment: Use routine tasks for continuous learning with your child. Read food labels and expand vocabulary with new words. Math skills can be fostered when you allow children to count change, use a timer as well as a clock, and discuss the day and date each morning. They can fold napkins and cut pizza to understand fractions. Math concepts such as same, different, matching, and sequence can be learned when sorting laundry, matching socks, and setting the table. Teach measurement when cooking or doing household repairs.
2. Make a Date: Set aside a specific time each day or once a week for learning activities. No television or other electronics allowed! Activities can include reading, board games, cross word puzzles, or art work. Young children enjoy activity books with coloring, dot-to-dot, match ups, word searches, and mazes. Put odds and ends in a junk box and watch the creativity flow!
3. Family Challenge: Include everyone on some level in family learning activities. Team games acting out fairy tales or card games such as concentration work well. Younger children can help hand out the game pieces and move them on the board or write the scores.
4. Keep it Brief: Thirty minutes is all you need; less time if your youngster has a short attention span. It’s best to quit while everyone is still enjoying the activity. Children will begin to associate fun and family with learning and look forward to time together.
5. Make it Fun: Focus on having fun and learning new things. Minimize competition. Teach children to be good sports and how to encourage and support each other. Let older children organize and lead the activity. They can also modify rules to work fairly with younger children. A special bonus is building strong family and social relationships.
6. Keep it Interesting: Use reference books to expand knowledge. Use a dictionary and ask your children to find words with 15 or more letters. Use a map or almanac to find a state and have them name the capital. Use an encyclopedia to have an alphabet scavenger hunt.
7. Show and Tell: Have each child take a turn making up sentences. First they can make a sentence about themselves. Then they say a sentence containing a fact. You can move on to sentences which give an opinion, say something silly, make a rhyme, or create a fairy tail. They can also make a tag-along sentence where each person adds two words until they have a complete sentence the more outrageous the better!
Activities such as these keep learning enjoyable and interesting. More importantly, it makes learning a good habit.
Dr. Valerie Allen is a child psychologist in Melbourne , FL. She presents seminars for parents and professionals in the field of child development and has published two childrens books, “Summer School for Smarties” and “Bad Hair, Good Hat, New Friends.” Oh yes, she has also raised six children!