Practical ways to enhance your kid's learning with things found at home.
We've all seen the Matric pass rate going upwards and the standard required to get a pass going down. The universities complaining about a Matric – which means a university entrance exam not being good enough to show that someone will cope with university. Parents choose the best school they can afford, or even move house to get into the zoned area for a better school.
Is schooling on its own enough?
We all want our children to do well enough in their Matric exams to get into the university course they want to study or for the trade they wish to train in, or just be ahead of the pack when applying for sales or call centre jobs with other school leavers. Being at a good quality school, paying attention, doing homework, getting help when struggling and doing well in tests and exams through the school years will all help with all that.
However, if you want your child to develop critical thinking skills, an interest in learning about the wider world, you have to add on to what they’re doing – no matter how good the school they attend.
In theory, even if you don’t have spare money for outings and limitless internet reading libraries are free, museums are cheap and there is public transport to get to all these places. The reality is that if parents work full day the library and museums are closed and Saturday mornings are your only option for some of these places being open.
How else can you augment your child’s education?
Using every day activities as learning experiences is one method. This can work at any age. A toddler can help to pair socks together, learning about matching and pattern recognition. An older child can measure out ingredients for cooking and baking, can help you convert Fahrenheit to Celsius for cooking from recipe books, can write out shopping lists to practice their writing and spelling.
Going for a walk around your neighbourhood can also provide some learning opportunities. For a toddler, there are many different textures in tree bark and leaves and spot the difference between different types of flowers and grass. For an older child, how does littering harm the environment? What effect is walking on well trodden pathways having on soil? How can you calculate how fast a stream is flowing?
There is also the equipment you have at home and in your kitchen. On a sunny weekend, pop your toddler outside with a basin of water and a variety of containers while you hang up the washing. The pouring teaches about volume and when something is full. Give a few different items like a small branch or off cut of wood, a heavy stone, a sponge. What floats? What sinks? What is porous and what isn't?
Asking your child to help you by opening pegs works on finger skills and seeing cause and effect, and pegging the pegs on their shirt for them to get off with their opposite hand helps them with crossing their mid line. An older child might be able to use the school library or computers with internet access to learn about anything that takes their fancy, or something about soap making or another craft and be able to do something practical with what you have at home while learning about combining matter and the different states of matter - something baking and cooking teaches too, and is a great way to make healthy lunch box fillers.
What have you tried to do to augment your child’s education?