Parents are always looking for new ways to help their kids learn. While you can quiz them prior to a test and check their homework each night, there are also some fun, creative ways to help your kids master their academic material. If you’re looking for some ideas, you’ve come to the right place. Here are seven simple but effective ways to help your kids learn new material.
Find Real-Life Examples
If you can remember back to when you were in school, while solving endless math problems or filling out worksheets, you probably thought, “what’s the point?” While worksheets help kids learn through repetition, they’re monotonous and can seem pointless. Most concepts kids learn in school have some sort of real-life application; you need to read in order to understand street signs and basic instructions, you use math and counting to tell time, you use fractions in the kitchen to cook and bake. You can help your kids gain a better understanding of concepts if you demonstrate how these things are used in everyday life.
Be on the lookout for teaching opportunities every day. “We think teaching is talking at kids and telling them stuff,” says Barbara Wolf, Ph.D., an associate vice president of family learning at the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis. “Instead, it’s about taking advantage of natural, everyday moments to ask questions and get the wheels working inside that little brain.”
Sitting in a classroom all day can be boring for a kid, not to mention challenging. Then, your son or daughter comes home and spends more time inside, doing homework. Give them a change of scenery and get outside. You can help them get a fresh perspective just by taking their studies outside and you can also plan outdoor activities to help them learn.
There’s no limit to a number of things you can do outside. Solve math problems with sidewalk chalk, take science lessons into the backyard, or do reading and literature work outside. If you have younger kids, you can give them some practice following directions with games like red light, green light or what time is it Mr. Fox?
Just getting outside and letting your kids blow off some steam will help them focus when they go back inside to finish their schoolwork.
There’s an App for That
While you may want your kids to use less technology, don’t forget that there are some fantastic apps out there to help your children with their studies. For younger kids, you can find apps to teach basic characteristics like emotions and empathy and for older kids, you can find everything from trivia games to math apps. You may want to test out the app before you let your child use it, and check out these teacher-approved educational applications.
Make it a Game
Trivia games like Jeopardy are great to help kids learn dates and facts and figures, and friendly competition can raise the stakes and add an incentive. Games are a great pre-test tool and many teachers play Jeopardy in their classrooms. Besides Jeopardy, here are some other family-favorite games you can use for review. You can also create guessing games using math and estimation, i.e guess how many jellybeans are in the jar or play hangman games to help children learn to spell. No matter the subject, you can find a game that will help your kids have fun while they learn.
Sing and/or Dance
Songs are fantastic to help kids learn and retain information like the dates, capitals, adverbs, presidents’ names and even The Preamble. You can search for songs on almost any subject online or you and your child can make up your own song or dance. “Good songs will bounce around in a learner’s head long after their lesson is over. Young learners pick up vocabulary, grammatical structures, and the rhythm of the language simply by doing what they already love to do…singing,” according to Super Simple Learning. The songs will get stuck in their heads (and yours, too), and they’ll have no choice but to remember the words!
Whether it’s clay, blocks or Legos, kids love building things and getting crafty. Building toys give children an advantage both cognitively and academically. Building benefits children of all ages, Not only are they fun, but they help kids develop a wide variety of skills and abilities. Building helps prepare kids for early skills like sharing and develops skills that will help them throughout their entire school career. You could go so far as to say that these toys are the “building blocks” for success. Encourage your kids to build something they’re learning about and let them apply their knowledge to a fun activity. Use clay to mold a cell, styrofoam balls to make a solar system, or build a volcano. Your kids will love telling you about what they’ve learned as you work together to make your creation.
Plan an Outing
Along with getting outside and finding real-life applications, planning an outing will help your kids understand what they’re learning and gain a fresh perspective. Go to the zoo or aquarium to learn about animals and sea life, check out a museum to learn about art or history, teach your kids about the environment at a park, or help them develop an appreciation for the arts by catching a performance or show. Make sure to check with your child’s teacher since education professionals can get discounts and freebies on activities and venues.
When you make learning fun for your kids, they will be more excited about their schoolwork and they will love sharing the experience with you. What are your favorite ways to study with your kids? Let us know in the comments below!
Maile Proctor is a professional blogger and content editor. She writes articles on lifestyle and family, health & fitness, education, how-to and more. Maile earned her Bachelor’s in Broadcast Journalism from Chapman University. When she’s not writing, she enjoys hiking in San Diego, California