Children are constantly learning about the world within them and around them.
They do this by listening, learning, watching, absorbing – virtually everything that stimulates their senses from the time they wake to the moment they fall asleep.
For toddlers and kindergarteners, fun and learning go hand-in-hand as days are spent painting, creating, exploring and imagining.
The rigors of school soon kick in, where the routine for some kids can lead to a learning slump.
The good news is that it doesn’t take much time or effort to rekindle a child’s love of learning. In fact, a little bit of planning can lead to a whole lot of fun – for you and them.
As I always say, the solution is always to KISS (Keep it Simple Silly)!
Here are a few fun and educational you can do together:
1. Scavenger hunt:
Children have a natural urge to explore, which is why scavenger hunts are so popular.
They’re also a great way to teach kids about the natural environment, which makes it a perfect activity to do in the backyard, at the local park or beach, or when you next go camping.
Encourage each child to find something interesting like broken shells, oddly shaped sticks or coloured leaves.
Asking open-ended questions will stimulate their imagination and prevent them from feeling there are right and wrong answers.
For example, ask them to describe the object’s shape, colour, texture and story. Record this in a journal along with a few photographs taken on your smartphone or digital camera.
When you get home, see how much they remember by asking them to draw pictures of what they found.
Show them that learning can be really cool by making your own erupting volcano
3. Kids in the Kitchen:
Cooking together is a great way to teach children about healthy food habits and also things like reading, writing and maths.
Ask your child to read the ingredients and, if they can reach, look for each item in the fridge or pantry. They can also practice measuring the ingredients and monitoring the time it takes to cook.
For those who can write, ask them to write a review of the dish after they’ve eaten it.
4. Task Master:
Empower children by asking them to plan a family outing one weekend. Once you’ve agreed on the activity, encourage them to use their imagination and co-ordinate what needs to be done and delegate who does what.
While it may not be your choice, try to let go and show enthusiasm!
5. Throwback Thursday:
Teach them about your history but ‘going old-school’ one day, whether that’s listening to your old music together, going through family photos, or watching an old Looney Tunes video together.
It’s a great bonding experience and also gives them an insight to their family history.
6. Life skills:
Turn off the GPS and teach your kids how to read a traditional map.
It’s not only an important life skill but also teaches them about direction, distance and logical thinking. Ask them to map out the best route and then let them be your guide.
Just give yourself a little extra time in case it takes a few extra turns to get wherever you’re going!
7. Green thumb:
Give them a gardening plot, even if it’s in a pot, and they will learn about nature and nurture in an incredibly engaging and rewarding way.
Build a fairy garden, make a scarecrow or grow seedlings.
Help your children discover a hidden world by placing a piece of timber on a patch of bare ground, and coming back a day or two later to discover the many creatures that have found shelter there.
Identify them in a homemade nature book or journal.
9: Green Hour:
Once a week, commit to one whole hour where you connect with something green as a family. Go for a cycle, read a nature book, plant a tree or start a vegie patch.
The most important thing is that you COMMIT and KISS!
10: Pen Pals:
PenPal World is a fantastic forum where children from around the world can connect and learn about different cultures.
Having a pen pal also fosters an interest in social studies, supports development of social skills, and can result in long-term friendships. (As with all computer activity, an adult should be present when children are online.)
Put the fun back into learning and watch your children thrive!