Monday, 29 April 2013

Guest Post: Making Learning Fun

Guest post from Steph Lee Stevenson on behalf of Galt Toys. Steph is a mother, a part time nurse, a social media lover, and loves writing content on child development.

What Do You Do at Home to Make Learning Fun for Your Children?

Many children hate going to school. When they are little, it is the anxiety of being separated from mum and dad. When they get a little older, it is because they have a date with their games console. As a teen, it is simply because they don’t want to do exams, want to hang around doing nothing, and generally make a nuisance of themselves.

Some of this is down to the general content of lessons. Often, children do not understand why they are learning certain things, only understanding that they ‘have to’. Sometimes, the child will not enjoy learning because it has not been introduced to them in an enjoyable way in their early years.

However, if a child has a pleasant introduction to learning, they are more likely to enjoy their education. The way we as parents communicate early learning is key to their future associations with education and how our child will feel about the learning environment.

As a parent, there are a number of things we can do to encourage positive associations with learning:

  • Vary how your child learns – there is a vast range of educational toys and materials out there designed to target a child’s interests at each key stage.
  1. Books featuring your little one’s favourite TV star, teaching them things such as the alphabet or numbers are great for pre-schoolers to get them a head start.

  1. Role playing toys help our children to develop their speech and language while inspiring their creativity.
  2. Musical toys can teach children songs or get them playing instruments, again helping them to get creative.
  1. Building toys encourage a child to recreate something they have seen or to make a new toy. Marble runs and building blocks are great for children who do not as yet have strong fine motor skills, where older children might enjoy building toys that utilise smaller pieces.
  • Don’t be too pushy with learning toys. Incorporate it into daily play slowly to begin with and allow your child to take or leave it and gradually increase the time you spend doing educational activities.
  • Reward achievements like your child’s teacher (or future teacher would). Using stickers on a chart works well. If they recognise a word, build something amazing, or play you a lovely song, stick a shiny gold star on their chart and if they get, say, 5 stars in a week, they can get a toy or some treats at the weekend. Ideally, their new treat or toy could be something discreetly educational, but it is up to you.

Children who find learning a chore may do so for a number of reasons. They may not have spent much time learning with mum or dad at home, or they might not have had good experiences with their achievement. If the activity is not fun at the same time as being educational, your child will probably switch off and begin to associate learning with ‘boring time’, thus making it a chore.

Back to the question, is learning as a child fun or a chore? I think much of the way a child feels about learning is down to what we as parents instil from a young age. With toys, technology and life being what it is today, there is no reason why children should see learning as a chore. If they do, a few small changes could turn their opinion on its head.

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