School is not the only place where kids learn. In fact, most educational psychologists think that the majority of the learning kids experience goes on outside of formal environments. For parents, this is something that is important to know. If learning happens outside of the classroom, then it’s important to make sure that the home is a place where learning can continue and where children can consolidate what they’ve learned already.
According to Lizzie Jones, a teacher, learning continues well into the evening. The unconscious minds of children buzz as they try to absorb new information. Creating an environment that makes that possible is one of the best and most helpful things that a parent can do.
Here’s how to make your home more educational.
Be A Stable Rock For Your Child
Homemaking is more than just choosing carpets that match the blinds. It’s about the atmosphere of home – what your child experiences after they come through the front door. Children who are brought up in happy, calm homes, can dedicate more of their mental resources to process what they’ve learned during the day. But kids whose parents argue and shout must focus on that instead, rather than exploring the world around them. Find a way to resolve conflicts is a matter of priority; otherwise, it could affect your child’s learning process.
Be Around Your Child As Much As Possible
Jones believes that there’s more to homeschooling than replacing the traditional teacher role. She says that parents can actually accelerate their child’s learning because they have a closer relationship with them. She recommends that parents try doing all sorts of creative things with their kids. That might mean going out to play a sport, cooking together, or writing something that everybody can enjoy, like a short play.
Jone’s point here is that parents need to help make everyday activities into learning experiences. Cooking, for instance, is an essential life skill, but often ignored in favor of “hard” subjects, like mathematics. That’s not to say that mathematics isn’t important, but a good foundation in cooking will become a pillar of health in the child’s future. Making everyday activities into learning experiences gives children the independence they need to succeed, not only in the world of work but also regarding their health.
Push Back Against Too Much Homework
Many people see homework as a necessary evil. But there’s mounting evidence that it might not be beneficial at all, especially for younger children. The reason for this is twofold. The first is that when children get home from school, they want to do activities, other than concentrated learning. Often, their hearts are not in it, and they see it as a chore that they simply don’t want to do.
The second is that children need time focusing on other things to really get a handle on what they’ve learned during the day. Science shows that real learning occurs when children enter a particular brain state. During this state, thoughts become consolidated, and they hard-code new information to their brains. If, however, they stay in a state of conscious learning, this is less likely to happen.
Provide Access To Technology
Technology is becoming an increasingly important part of many children’s educations. Today, millions of children learn over the internet, watching high-quality online videos and tutorials, enabling them to catch up on what they may have missed in school. Many topics can be learned this way, especially in instances when there is not access to the subject with a live or local teacher.
The quality of online education is exceptionally high. The reason for this is that the world’s best educators are now able to disseminate their material far and wide, practically for free. Even internet providers, including i3Broadband, are now looking for ways to help parents make going online more educational. It’s becoming an essential tool, and one that savvy parents realize gives their children the best chance to do well in their academic future.
Become A Book-Obsessed Family
Research shows that when children make the decision that they want to read, they almost always succeed. Usually, around the age of 7, a child will begin to investigate books, and before long, they will master the art of understanding the written word, with practically no oversight.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that many homes are devoid of exciting books for children. This is a problem. According to Jones, children who live in homes that are starved of interesting books can fall behind their peers by as much as three years. The library is a great place to find books that interest your child.
Sometimes, just having interesting books around is not enough. The trick here is to try to develop a culture of reading in the home. One way to do this is to lead by example: read books yourself in the evenings, rather than watch TV. Your children are more likely to follow.
Alternatively, help get them into reading by reading to them, or getting your kids to read to you. Before long, you will have fantastic story times and your children will be inspired to get lost in their imaginations, all by themselves.
As adults, we want our homes to be neat and tidy. But children have no such inclinations. For them, every tidy cupboard or clean surface is an opportunity for chaos and exploration. If parents want to create a truly educational home, they must adapt to this reality. Loosen up the tidiness standards a little – allow some messes.
The reason for this is that children learn by doing. It takes time for them to learn (if ever), how to enjoy an activity without making a mess. Just being tidy has a steep learning curve, let alone when imagination and creation are being explored.
Jones says that it’s essential that parents provide children with the tools that allow them to master their environment. This includes giving them craft items, like paint, glue, pens, and clay. And a place to put these tools away when creating time is done. Parents should also provide a kind of gallery for children to show off their work. Having a gallery of artwork or clay designs in the house reminds the child on a daily basis of what they can achieve if they put their mind to it.
Of course, you don’t just have to encourage creative hobbies that are messy. Learning to play a musical instrument, or getting into model-building, all help children learn dexterity and promote critical thinking and other areas of the brain.
Invest In A Cozy Space
Although clutter is sometimes an inevitable part of the learning process, Jones says that children learn best in tidy environments. A snug, or cozy space, is a perfect place for learning. It’s warm, orderly, and relaxing. And it allows children to get lost in their thoughts in a quiet and peaceful environment.
One of the great things about snugs is that they are a place where children would choose to go. Unlike classrooms, there are no stiff plastic chairs or wooden tables. There is just a comfortable environment – blankets, pillows, a sheltered space. This could be a window seat, a built-in nook, or even a tent inside their room. Close in the space below a loft bed with curtains and add some comfortable seating and you have made a snug.
That doesn’t mean that snugs should be entirely for relaxing. One of the things that parents can do is provide all the tools kids need for learning. Many snugs have bookcases, and perhaps access to a tablet computer. But also, you could provide stationery, calculators, and other educational items in a drawer nearby.
Open Up The Garden
Many of the greatest minds in science got their start by investigating the contents of their back gardens. It’s no surprise when great biologists and botanists talk about their childhoods, filled with collecting insects from the garden or drawing plants in bloom. Nature walks at the park are nice, but a more easily accessible route is in your own backyard – literally.
There are dozens of ways that you can teach your kids about the natural world through your backyard garden. For instance, you could show them how to grow tomatoes from scratch. Let them watch as the seed germinates, punctures through the soil, grows into a plant, which then, in turn, produces tomatoes containing seeds for new plants. Herbs and beans are also really easy to grow in most climates, and a great way to get kids to connect the food that’s in the fridge to the plants that are growing in the garden. You could even ask your child to help you grow some food for a recipe that you want to make with them.
Don’t be afraid to add in a bit of technology either. There are dozens of apps out there that allow you to track crops growing in your garden. You’ll get alerts for when it’s the best time to plant new seeds, water the plants, and harvest the produce.
At heart, says Jones, a great learning environment at home is one in which children are encouraged to become independent thinkers. Too many children today are taught that the only way to succeed in education is to be led by the hand through it. Although this strategy may work when it comes to taking exams, it’s a lousy way to go through life. The adult world demands people are proactive and take the initiative. And that’s precisely what you want to achieve when you make your home more education. Help your child learn how to learn.