Ideally, education is a partnership between a family and a school. There are many ways to strengthen that relationship, and clear and respectful communication is a necessary component. Parents can also help to reinforce classroom learning by encouraging children to share and apply what they have learned at home. When a child is enthusiastic about learning, they not only retain information better, they also expand their skills as they find new ways to use what they have learned. Classroom lessons that feel relevant to “real life” outside school tend to stick with students longer. Applying lessons at home can also be fun. Most importantly, being involved with your child’s learning can strengthen family bonds.
Here are a few ways you can encourage your children to apply the lessons they are learning in school, while enjoying some great family-time:
- If your child is learning new words, point out the word or the word’s meaning whenever possible. You can even find words on flyers and in junk mail, or check for signs and billboards when you are outside.
- Encourage your child to read to you or their pets out loud, in addition to reading books to them. Or, if you are making dinner, set up a favorite stuffed animal to be an encouraging audience, as you listen nearby.
- Talk about what your child has been reading at the dinner table. If they have a question about something they’ve read, or have become curious about an era of history or a person they’ve read about, do some research together after dinner. Follow your child’s curiosity and see where it leads.
- Use math at the grocery store. For young children, have them help count as you pick up fruit. Give your older child a list and a calculator and have them total the bill before check out. You can even ask your child to calculate discounts on certain items along the way.
- Find out what type of artwork your child is doing in school, and create an at-home version of the project. It may mean creating a mural, or buying some clay, but it will be fun to have your child teach you the techniques her or she has learned in class.
- Students often learn interesting games in gym class. Learn the rules of some new games, and even encourage your child to create their own version. Just having them explain the rules will strengthen their communications skills.
- Create a board game from a favorite book. You can mirror a standard game, like Monopoly, but change the places to reflect places in the book, or you can create something completely new together.
- Encourage your child to use a journal or create a short video log of their school day. They can talk about the things that they learned and what they liked, or didn’t like, about the day. Remembering the lessons each day will help them to reflect on what they’ve learned.
- Use sticky notes to have your child share one new thing they have learned each day. Find a place where they can accumulate. You can also share your own note!
For more ideas read this article. Wherever possible, help your child make connections between what they have learned in school and other areas of their life. If they learn about an era of history, find out how your family heritage connects to that era. If they learn something new in science, make a connection to devices or applications at home.
Don’t do these things to push your child, but rather to make the learning more fun and relevant to your child’s life. You can foster a deeper relationship with your child and deepen their learning at the same time. Remember to keep it all in perspective though, learning should be fun!
The most important message is that school is a part of your child’s "real life," and the lessons learned there can be applied outside of the classroom. Making learning a family activity is a great way to strengthen family relationships. Finally, you support your child’s respect for learning by modeling your own respect. Education is a partnership between parents and schools. Working together, we can deepen our connections to learning and to each other.