As a parent, you probably are aware that children are eager learners, even those who don’t necessarily thrive in the classroom. There are things that you can do to help encourage that learning, which teaches them that it is not something that just happens at school. The tips below can help you ensure that your child is able to enjoy enriching experiences in many settings.
There’s a lot of value in knowing how to talk to your child’s teacher and making sure that you are able to attend all the parent-teacher meetings. Keeping in touch with your child’s teacher throughout the school year is critical. Some of that value is seeing your child through someone else’s eyes. While it’s true that nobody knows your kid the way that you do, it is often surprising for parents to hear from a teacher what a child is like in the classroom. One who is uncooperative at home may be the model of cooperation at school, for example.
This can be for many reasons, including that kids are simply more comfortable testing boundaries around their parents. As far as encouraging a lifelong learner goes, this communication with the teacher is valuable because it can give you insight into interests and a side of your kid that you may not see. This can help you better tailor educational experiences for them.
It’s great to encourage learning for its own sake, but some children can lose motivation in their schoolwork because they do not see how it relates to the rest of their lives. You’ve probably heard your own kid complain that they’ll never be asked to recite multiplication tables or something similar out in the real world, and if not, you probably remember saying something like that yourself. But you can show your child the relationship between what they are learning in school and that real world. When your child is working on fractions for the first time, you can introduce their use in cooking.
Older kids could take part in creating the family budget. You could sit down together and see that understanding those multiplication tables isn’t so useless after all when you multiply the savings from eschewing a daily $3 coffee drink and it adds up to more than $1,000 in a year. College-bound kids could benefit from a demonstration of various ways to save and pay for college. If you have student loans yourself, talk to them about interest rates and how you are paying for them. Invite them to sit down with you and see how refinancing them with a private lender can lower your interest rates. You can put some of the money that this frees up into savings to watch it grow and use another portion of it for something fun as a kind of reward. Take any similar chance you can to turn an abstract school concept into a concrete life lesson.
One aspect of being a parent that is simultaneously incredible, and frustrating is that your kid is very much their own person. If you want a theater child, you’ll probably end up with one who loves engineering and vice versa. This is why when you set out to teach them that the entire world can be a thrilling classroom, it’s important to follow their lead based on their own interests. You can certainly encourage them to try new things but let them be who they are and pursue the things that they love.
Allowing them the space to form their own opinions in this regard also helps their mental health. The impact of overthinking on mental health can be significant and pushing your child into something their heart is not in can cause undue stress. This might mean accepting that the kid you hoped would enjoy growing up around the guitars that you love would rather have your old computer to take apart instead, but it also means that you give them what they need to help their mind and imagination soar.
It’s important that you don’t get so caught up in demonstrating that everything is a learning activity that you forget to have fun. In fact, you should try to make any kind of outside the classroom learning fun, but remember that learning can be play as well, and too many kids do too little of it. Using their own imagination, working on small conflicts with siblings and playmates and even figuring out how to solve the problem of boredom on their own is all good for your child’s development. A good way to nurture creativity and imaginative play is to be sure that you don’t overschedule them with enrichment activities and that there is plenty of down time for them to play with their toys, be entirely unproductive and daydream.
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