- Take advantage of learning moments
- Be positive
These points are all related, of course.
Let’s look at each one.
No, you don’t have to be beautiful (though I’m sure you are). By modelling, I mean portraying the behaviours you want to encourage.
If you read books, magazines, blogs (you are now!) and let your children see you taking pleasure in reading, this will encourage them.
- Read for leisure
- Keep reading material throughout the home
- Talk about what your read – engage your young ones
- Make use of your local library
- Little free libraries (many communities have these now, including several in Guelph)
Make sure you have books at home. E-books, iPads, etc. are fine, too – but there is nothing like having some real books available. There is a tactile benefit and more personal involvement.
Let your children see you do math.
- converting measurements for recipes
- balancing a savings/chequing account
- setting up a budget for grocery shopping
- using flyers to compare prices.
Modelling how to work with math in real-life, can really help children and teenagers understand the purpose behind mathematics.
Modelling the entire learning process is also great.
I have students who come (and this can happen at any grade) with a project or assignment on a topic I know very little about. There is nothing wrong with letting your child (or student) recognize that you don’t know everything.
Nobody knows everything.
This is a perfect opportunity to take on the challenge and model the learning steps – research, reading, taking notes, summarizing, brainstorming, etc.
When a student realizes that everyone needs to go through the process to learn, he/she feels more empowered.
This leads next to the Environment – the right space makes all the difference!
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Setting up an excellent environment for learning doesn’t have to be fancy or costly.
The essentials include:
- Desk and firm but comfortable chair (too comfy and sleepy sleepy)
- Good lighting (straining to read makes you tired quicker)
- Limited distractions
- Electronic devices are great assets and nasty distractions at the same time. Monitor children who require it to be sure they are “on task.”
- Music – only low level, preferably without lyrics. If you are singing along, you are not fully engaged in the science text!
- Book shelf or baskets (plastic buckets, etc.) to hold supplies and files – organization is key.
You don’t need an entire office. It can be a quiet corner in a multipurpose room.
Having a dedicated space is the best if possible because it reduces wasted time searching for resources.
The next tip is so important because a lot of moments are lost!
Every day there are loads of potential learning moments. You probably don’t think about how many activities you do automatically that could be a learning point for someone younger or less experienced. Here are only a few examples.
Trips to the store can have many awesome learning moments. Instead of just having the children amuse themselves, engage them in the process.
Look at prices, compare quality along with price to make decisions. Reading, math, and decision making skills are practised within this exercise.
Lots of opportunity here, including the obvious – they learn how to cook!
Math – measuring, adjusting recipes for different amounts or numbers of people, reading temperatures.
Reading – recipes, ingredient labels.
Writing – copy out favourite recipes, write a cooking blog or little comments on your favourite social media with pictures of the outcome.
There are obvious trips that encourage learning such as the museum and the zoo. But be sure to take advantage of these opportunities.
Read the plaques
Discuss – encouraging your child or teen to put thoughts into words and express himself/herself is unbelievably beneficial.
Pricing decisions, engaging with customers, making change, organizing products.
These examples are just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many more.
The next tip is a challenge. Are you up for it!
First – and this is going to be a difficult one for some of you – get ready ….
Try not to be negative about your “work!”
Many students see their learning as “work,” and they see work as all negative.
We can’t really blame them. After all, we say things like “Go do your homework.”
Then, they connect “work” with drudgery, boring, horrible, tedious, nasty, groaning, and moaning (Have you ever heard anyone talk about work this way?)
No wonder they hate school! Or, at least, no wonder they tend to avoid the tasks or rush through them as fast as possible.
Learning is less about “work” and more about “engaging,” “succeeding,” “benefiting,” etc. Help them see the world in a more positive way.
Who knows, this change of thought patterns might help you, too.
Encourage and use expressions that lead to the next step.
Coaches can be incredibly valuable. Parents, teachers, librarians, tutors, and others can all help build that true learning environment.
Well, you know tutors have to be included. After all, I am one!
While a parent may be the ultimate guide in a lot of cases, having someone outside the family who knows and understands the learning process is incredibly valuable.
They can often see and hear things that are missed in the close family relationship.
The student, also, has another outlet to express himself/herself. Students often feel less inhibited and more willing to take risks.
Not only that, but a good tutor can really help you, the parent!
When everyone is learning together – that’s when the magic happens.
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Stay in touch and let’s keep learning!