Help kids to enjoy learning

Children are naturally wired to soak up their environment, ask questions and learn as much as they can. However, they don’t always enjoy formal learning at school, something that increasingly is concerning parents.
Many parents these days worry that long school days may diminish their children’s natural zest for learning, according to a recent study conducted by the National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL). Some parents also are concerned that financial and time constraints are preventing them from giving their children everything they need to succeed.
“There are many easy and inexpensive ways for families to make learning fun again and incorporate it into daily activities, so they don’t have to find additional time in already hectic schedules,” says Emily Kirkpatrick, vice president at NCFL. “Parents should tap into everyday activities and a child’s natural sense of wonder for inspiration.”
Here are some ideas to get your child excited about learning:
? Brainstorm and research. When children ask “why,” don’t simply answer them. Encourage critical thinking skills by turning the question around and asking them what they think the explanation is. Then go research the answer together.
? Learn with them. Take an interest in your child’s schoolwork by asking them what they learned that day. If they say “Nothing,” then ask them what pages in their textbook they covered.
According to the NCFL study, parents may be anxious that they can’t keep up with their children’s schoolwork. But parents needn’t know all the answers to encourage a life-long love of learning. Instead, you can be a good role model by demonstrating a willingness to learn from your kids.
? Go online together. While the Internet has historically gotten the short shrift in terms of educational value, some content can be beneficial. For example, a new non-profit Web site named Wonderopolis.org provides family-friendly content that is practical, easy-to-use and designed to engage children’s natural curiosity.
Each day, parents can find a “Wonder of the Day” – something simple to explore with their children. For instance, a recent video encouraged kids to form their own League of Lesser Known Superheroes for some rainy day fun. Suggested members included Waffleman, who protects Brunchopolis from the evil Dr. Broccoli.
? Take them out. Family outings can be a great way to foster curiosity in your kids, and it doesn’t have to mean an additional expense. Instead of dinner at your usual family restaurant, try the new ethnic joint in town. Or take a drive through local historical sites. The key is to not rush through the outing and to take time to ask kids what they think and feel.
It’s most important to focus on your child’s efforts to learn, not the final results, experts say. Their explanations may be incorrect, perhaps even funny, but the important thing is that they associate learning with fun.
For more creative ideas to spark your children’s curiosity, visit Wonderopolis.org.
– Courtesy of StatePoint Media

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