How then can we, as parents, best facilitate the learning of our children at home?
For a child between 6 months and 3 years, the best approach to any learning is routine, repetition and reinforcement. Here are some tips from one of our partners on how you can make learning at home fun and effective.
When I became a mother with my first-born Micah, I thought myself as fortunate being an early childhood educator by profession, that I would know – quite certainly – the workings of supporting his development in positive, affirming ways. But I soon realised that in spite of being a professional in the field, I never had experience supporting my own child’s learning at home.
So juggling between learning to be a mother, managing those raging hormones, making sure Micah’s needs were attended to, coping with the lack of sleep, I found myself wide-eyed and stranded. “I’m an early childhood educator, I’ve worked with lots of children at work – of all ages even so!” I was unbelieving of the situation I found myself in.
Gradually when things became a little calmer at home and with support from my family (thank God for families), I took things in my stride and discovered that learning is everywhere if only we open our minds and our hearts to it. I am a working mother, so the learning at home had to be of minimal fuss. So I started finding learning opportunities everywhere at home – even with household chores. Everything quickly fell into place and became a natural part of my routine at home with Micah, and subsequently with my daughter, Maia when she arrived.
Thing is, a lot of learning developments begin at home. It is their safe haven where children learn to eat, crawl, speak, walk, and most of all feel comfortable being themselves. Even if he’s already attending playgroups or preschool, home is still a fantastic place for him to explore his abilities and extend his capabilities. So let’s look at how to make learning at home fun!
- After introducing your children to a letter and its sound, take them on a treasure hunt around the house to look for the same letter. Have the same letter hidden in different places. With some planning, you could have them looking for the same coloured letter in different places, then vowels in different places. This could go on and on!
- Another exciting idea is to get them to love writing! Have your children to form letters by using clay, painting with their finger, tracing it out in a tub of flour, salt, whipping cream – get creative! The idea behind this is to make writing or tracing a letter fun – so that they would start off on the right note and not look at writing as a tedious task.
Rote Counting Numbers
Get those little hands and minds working by roping them in when you work on your household chores. Have your children help you count your cloth pegs when you’re pegging the clothes up to dry, or the number of pants to fold, number of eggs you have just purchased from the trip to the grocer’s, or count the number of steps when you move up and down your staircase at home! The idea behind this to get them to love counting and even help you with chores whenever possible. What you are teaching them indirectly is a skill that is crucial to lay foundations for future learning in school and also in life. So start them young!
- Introduce a shape at home – with emphasis given to the number of sides and points. Get them to go on a ‘shape-walk’ around the house to look for objects with the same shapes.
- Or say you’re making sandwiches together for breakfast. You can use the bread to teach them the square shape with 4 sides of equal length and 4 points. And when you cut the sandwich in half diagonally, you get a triangle! So what you are doing is extending their mind to look for shapes in everything that they see. A good foundation for maths!
- I love teaching colours at home – in fact, my children learned their colours by folding the laundry! We used to sort all the blue clothes together, the green ones together, and so on. It’s a fun activity to try at home.
- On days when I could get my hands on some mangoes, we will be learning about yellow. And the children get to choose and wear their favourite yellow clothes or acessories; we will be searching for yellow objects at home. Our aim is to help our children understand that colours have no size, colours can manifest in a variety of shapes and textures. So grapes can be green, but so can apples. Green can be smooth but also rough. Learning colours have never been easier and fun!
The idea behind supporting our children’s learning at home is to use objects that are already existing at home, even sticking to common practises at home. Then we work our creativity to infuse the learning in these every day practises. When we are not going out of our way, learning becomes more natural and sustainable.
Try these tips at home and you’ll soon realize that house chores aren’t that boring after all – they could be things that you do with your children and most importantly it is fun-learning for them. All we have to do is to add a dash of creativity in what we intend to do. Also do bear in mind, your children are never too young to start helping you at home… Enjoy learning with your family!
About the writer: Shobana Chandran
Shobana or more fondly known as ‘Shoby’, believes that learning is a lifelong experience and one that should be undertaken in an active collaboration between the parents, teachers and the child.
Shoby is currently Julia Gabriel Centre’s Head of Enrichment Programmes, and in over the decade that she has been with the children’s learning institution, she has been paramount in shaping the early childhood education landscape through her dramatically different ways. Along the way, she has also helped many parents make the most out of their early years journey by helping them understand their child’s learning development. She is reachable at email@example.com or click here to visit the Julia Gabriel Centres website.