I'm not a homeschooling mother (hell no, I need my alone-time and I have limited patience – though I have UTMOST respect for mums who choose to homeschool), but I try and incorporate a love for learning outside of the classroom. Partly because I genuinely believe that learning can take place anywhere and everywhere and not just in a formal setting, and partly because Little Man is September born, so while he is of reception-age, he is still at nursery, so I know he is capable of learning more. And I'd rather give him that push now when there's no added stress of homework etc than when needs must and all of that…
So! I tend to bring a little of the classroom environment home (as I know Little Man loves learning there), and here are five simple ways you could too…
I'm a huge believer in visual learning – the more you see it, the more it sticks! Simple. Look at any nursery or reception classroom and the walls are dotted with educational stuff – be it alphabet charts, numbers, phonics sounds, basic words, animals, the weather. By seeing these everyday, pre-schoolers are imbibing it all without even realising it. Think of it this way: If you keep seeing an 'A' on the wall, when you've got to learn to write it, the visual aid imprinted in your mind will help you put it into action.
Stick educational posters around your child's room. Of course the alphabet and number charts are the obvious choices, but go a little beyond and spark their imagination. Is you kid interested in planets? Get a poster on the solar system. The world map can also make an interesting point of conversation and learning for little minds.
This advice was given to me by Little Man's nursery teacher – when introducing them to the world of writing, don't just stick to pen and paper. Explore all mediums – not only does that make it less monotonous and more exciting for them, but it also allows them to see the variations when working with different writing materials. Let them paint their name, or write it on a dry wipe board. Probably practise numbers on a magnetic whiteboard. Give them some chalk and let them draw figures on your pathway. Crayons, felt pens, water colours – the more the merrier!
Every nursery/ pre-school has loads of books; most even have book days when children are allowed to choose a book to take home. Because this is the age to inculcate a love for books and reading.
Of course, until your child is in reception, he/ she will not be able to read (bar a few small words), but you can – and must – read to your child. Reading a book (or four!!!) before bedtime can be relaxing and can be a great part of the bedtime routine.
Let the books be accessible to your child, so he or she can pick and choose which one to read/ be read to.
If you've got a toddler, picture books and flap-books are amazing to arouse their interest in reading.
4. Educational apps
Now I know technology and kids is a debatable topic and there is a lot of talk about limiting screen-time for kids. BUT we cannot ignore the fact that this is the way forward and technology and the Internet will be a huge part of their lives. So, like with everything else in life, set reasonable limits and balance it out. And why not let them do some learning through screen-time too?
Children would much rather learn phonics from a lovely voice singing it aloud on an app, with accompanying visual aids, than repeat after you! In fact, most nurseries and pre-schools also have a large screen in the classroom through which teaching is done and educational videos are screened.
So bring a little fun to their learning; there are so many lovely educational apps to choose from. I love the Kidloland app (read my review to see why).
5. Free play/ imaginative play
Instead of planning every milli-second of your little one's awake-time, why not give them some time every day to do whatever they want. You might be met with some "I'm bored" protests, but once that bridge is crossed, you'll be amazed how well they entertain themselves. Besides giving you some breathing space, it encourages them to use their imagination. Every Early Years educational institute also has some time for 'Free Play' – so incorporate it at home as well.
There! I hope these pointers help make learning at home a more pleasant and fun experience for you and your pre-schooler. If you have any more tips, I'd love to hear them!
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