Thoughts & Reflections
Parents naturally want to help their children. They want to play a role in their education. There is pressure to supplement learning that happens in school. Are they learning what they should? Are they doing enough? Am I doing enough?
We look for flashcards, for worksheets, for educational activities, and we make this into a chore for ourselves. Gotta remember to work with Sam on his letters. Did you quiz Anna on her numbers/colors/state capitals? Shoot, neither did I. It becomes a task. And if it’s a task for us, how must it feel to a child? No wonder it doesn’t happen, or happens for a week and falls by the wayside, or happens and ends in frustration.
“Playing, simply being with your child, is a learning experience for them.”
You are the most important person in the whole world to your child.
It’s easy to find suggestions for parents, more things To Do, more lists, more check marks, more tasks.
We forget that so much of this is natural, if we let go of the To Do and remember the To Be.
“Trips to the grocery store are an opportunity for vocabulary building. This is an apple. This is an eggplant.”
It can be kind of uncomfortable, and hard to remember. What if, instead, we were simply present with our children? If we took that inner monologue, and made it external conversation?
“I think I’ll make Eggplant Parmesan this week. Hmm, what do I need again? Eggplant. Wow! This one is big! Too big, wonder if they have a smaller one? Here is one that’s smaller. Isn’t that one beautiful? That’s a Japanese eggplant. We don’t need that kind of eggplant for this recipe. What else?”
This isn’t a task, it’s a relationship. We don’t need to do flashcards with children when we can ask them to gather a head of lettuce and two bell peppers, and they can do it. We don’t need to wonder if they can count when we ask them to set the table with four napkins while we’re finishing dinner, and they do it.
Playing, simply being with your child, is a learning experience for them. Which is more fun, for both of you — a worksheet, or building Legos together? Only one of those activities establishes big math concepts (sequencing, logic), prepares for reading (instructions are laid out left to right), has a child demonstrate knowledge of numerals, translates an image into a physical representation, builds a strong relationship, fosters creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, planning, organization, and all other kinds of life skills, helps children be comfortable with making mistakes and confidence in fixing those mistakes themselves, and strengthens fine motor control and manual dexterity.
Practice your letters, and then we can play a game together.
But what if the game together WERE the homework? If we’re patient and willing to help, or even play in teams, games like Uno, Sequence, or Scrabble can be played with young children.
Reading practice becomes a trip to the library and a night in together.
Practice counting becomes baking together.
Flashcards becomes a walk outside making observations and taking notes in a nature journal.
Playing a part in a child’s education doesn’t have to be a chore, and we are the richer for it.
Written by:Charlotte Wood