Continuous Learning Opportunities for Your Kids
As the old adage goes, “We learn something new every day.” It’s easy to take this for granted, but, as parents, we need to take advantage of the daily opportunities to teach our kids through the common experiences of living. In question and answer format, here are a few tips to accomplish that objective.
Q: What are simple ways we parents can incorporate learning into our kids’ daily lives?
A: We can pay attention to the daily experiences and knowledge that we take for granted and use these as learning opportunities for our kids. For example, if we are grocery shopping, we can take the time to read aloud the labels on the foods we see and teach our kids about nutrition. If we are walking to the park, we can teach our kids about the native grasses and wildlife that we see along our journey. If we are visiting an elderly neighbor, we can ask the neighbor to teach our kids about history (i.e., what it was like to live through the Great Depression or to bear first-hand witness to the Selma, Alabama race riots.
Q: How can vacation time be a great way to enhance education?
A: Vacation destinations can be chosen with continuous learning opportunities in mind. For example, a vacation to Philadelphia or Washington, D.C. is a wonderful opportunity to learn about American history. Camping and backpacking in the Colorado Rocky Mountains can be a wonderful way to teach about ecology and environmental sciences. A vacation to a foreign port is a wonderful way to learn about other cultures, languages, and perspectives.
Q: How can we parents encourage our kids’ desire for learning outside of school hours?
A: By making learning a fun daily experience and encouraging our kids’ curiosity, we can foster in our kids a desire to learn whether in or out of school. Learning can be made fun through hands-on experiences such as through learning vacations, learning grocery shopping trips, etc. as noted above. We can encourage our kids’ curiosity by praising them when they ask questions and devoting the time to give them well considered answers. We can also encourage curiosity by asking questions ourselves. For example, “Why do you think the sky is light blue? Why isn’t it bright purple or pea green?”
Q: What are the advantages to our kids’ learning all year long?
A: We want our kids to grow to become intelligent, well informed, well rounded adults who are personally and professionally successful (i.e., they can earn a good living in an occupation that satisfies them and carry on reasonable conversations on most topics so as to have smooth personal and professional social interactions). How can we better prepare our kids to achieve these goals than to provide for them a love of and opportunities for learning all year long?