For whatever reason, it seems like kids of this generation are growing up thinking that learning is hard and reading is boring. While we could talk about standards and excessive testing, I think a major issue to consider is that our children don’t have much free time. (Certainly school wasn’t any more fun a generation or two ago.)
I have lots of great memories of hands-on fun at school. We got to incubate and hatch chicks, make a solar kitchen, go on the “Oregon Trail,” dress up for pioneer day, etc. After school, I would run outside with my neighborhood friends for hours. We had a lot of freedom to explore and learn new things through discovery.
To contrast, this generation goes to school all day, followed immediately by after-school activities and sports programs. Our kids are surrounded by information (often instant access on the phones in our pockets), but somehow seem disconnected from the discovery process. It breaks my heart to hear the negative feelings our kids have about learning.
When Yvonne and Raewyn asked me for tips that parents can use to make learning fun and bring hands-on learning experiences back to our family culture, I was more than happy to share!
You can click here to listen to the podcast,
or scroll on for my best tips and resource recommendations.
(Reminder: Rolling Prairie Readers uses affiliate links at no additional cost to you. You can see our full disclosure policy here.)
Making Learning Fun
- What should your child be learning?
This will take a bit of research. Get familiar with your state standards website and also chat with your child’s teacher about current learning objectives in the classroom. Another great resource is the Core Knowledge series of books, which make it easy to know exactly What Your First Grader Needs to Know.
You may be interested in our Age-Appropriate Learning Workshop!
- Match up your child’s interests with a new skill. Teachers can’t always tailor every lesson to a child’s specific personality and learning style, but parents can! Bring in a sensory tray for your young writer or take your kinesthetic learner out to the trampoline to practice math facts.
- Talk positively about school, education, and learning. We all want our children to graduate and get a job. We also want to inspire and empower our children to follow their passions and use their unique gifts to make the world a better place. That can only happen when our kids read for fun and learn outside of the classroom.
- Build stamina with your little ones before they start school. Read aloud often. Allow them to create art and build cities with their blocks. Take them outside to explore nature. Most importantly, play games where they are expected to take turns, follow directions, and finish a task. Buy toys that can be used in a variety of ways to extend the experience. (See our must-have materials for learning at home.)
- Create a flexible learning environment at home. Children aren’t meant to sit in desks all day long. Let your kids lay on the floor, work at the couch, bounce on an exercise ball, or do their homework outside. Take frequent brain breaks. Dance, take a walk, hang upside down…
Making Math Fun
Utilize your child’s learning style to practice math at home. Let your tactile learner use “manipulatives” to act out the problems. Teach your visual learner to draw the information and find key words. Make up skip-counting songs for your auditory learner to learn their math facts. Play Uno, Rack-O, and Pass the Pigs. (See our favorite math toys here.)
Making Language Arts Fun
Read-aloud from a young age! Go to the library often, and bring home books that interest your child. Read a book together, and then watch the movie as a family. Write about family trips when you get home! Go to author events and buy signed copies of books. Try book subscriptions and book clubs.
Making Science Fun
Try a new experiment each weekend. (You can get family science activity ideas on my Pinterest board here.) Go on nature walks and explore animal habitats in your area. If you’re okay with quality screen time, then you could watch either Rachel and the Treeschoolers or the new Magic School Bus.
Making History Fun
Some children will love to learn more about history by reading books. Series like The Magic Treehouse, I Survived, and Who Was….? can bring the past to life. You can also watch age-appropriate documentaries and take family field trips to history centers all around your state!
Making Geography Fun
Obviously, there is no better way to expose your kids to geography than traveling together. You can explore maps, directions like north, east, south, and west, learn about public transportation graphics, and distance. Children can also learn about landmarks, natural resources, and other cultures. Even if you can’t go far, family adventures are one of the best ways to make learning fun!
There are many ways to strengthen geography skills from home, too. Buy maps and globes, stock your family library with a quality atlas, and explore the world through webcams and travel sites. You can even use classic games like Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? or Stack the States!
Making learning fun at home is an attainable goal for all families. Try one new learning experience each week! Choose positive language about school, and most of all, model lifelong learning for your kids. If I can help at all, just let me know!