When we’re supporting our children along their learning journey, sometimes things go smoothly, like when we’re cuddled up beside them, reading a favorite book. Other times, things can get a little bumpy, like when we’re trying to explain a math question and we’re not sure who’s more frustrated: you or your child! Here are a few tips for helping your child as you navigate through learning activities together:
After a full day at school, greeting your child with worksheets and textbooks might not exactly have him jumping for joy. Take a lighter approach to learning and remember that time to play is important too. Playing a board game together helps develop math skills like one-to-one correspondence, counting, and even addition if you’re playing with two dice. Board games also encourage social skills like turn-taking, playing fairly, and losing (and winning!) gracefully.
Finding the learning in everyday tasks is an easy and effective way to support your child’s skill development. Helping set the table allows her to think about how many plates, cups, and utensils to get so everyone has what they need. Baking together not only helps his motor skills as he pours and stirs, but also exposes him to numbers and measurements. Sharing those cookies encourages him to think about how to divide items up evenly. Teachable moments are all around us and provide quick, valuable lessons for our children.
We can support our children’s language development by surrounding them with songs, rhymes, and storybooks. You don’t need to be an award-winning recording artist to belt out silly songs and nursery rhymes with your child. (Has anyone else’s kids become obsessed with the soundtrack from The Greatest Showman??) Pair that with time to read together and you’re helping your child expand her vocabulary, discriminate sounds and word patterns, and retell stories. Whether you’re singing songs during bath time or chanting nursery rhymes in the car, speaking and listening are valuable communication skills that set the stage for early literacy development.
If your child brings home activities from school, set aside time and choose a place where work can be completed. Creating a consistent homework routine will help set up your child for success. Maybe school work is completed after dinner, sitting together at the dining room table. Perhaps it’s better to finish it earlier in the evening, after unwinding and finishing their after-school snack. If your child has reading to do, snuggling up at bedtime with his book might be the best option. Routines add predictability to children’s days and, with any luck, this one will prevent homework battles as well.
If your child is having difficulty with a learning activity, give her patience, encouragement, and support. Keep in mind that when kids (and adults!) are asked to practice something they find difficult, maintaining motivation and a positive attitude can be hard. Keep study sessions to a length appropriate for your child’s age. Your patience and encouragement will help him keep his frustration in check. If it’s not going well, take a break and come back to it later, even if that means tomorrow. If you need more suggestions for how to help, talk to your child’s teacher.
Children are filled with curiosity and you have the awesome job of helping them explore and learn about the world around them. When our children are young, it’s the perfect time to start cultivating their love of learning. Have fun together and if you make mistakes along the way, don’t worry, because that’s part of learning too.
Brought to you by: NOGGINSLAND
Written by: Erin Agnello
Edited & Designed by: Jamie Schmalenberger
Images & Graphics by: Iconicbestiary, Photoroyalty, Katemangostar / Freepik
My name is John Haber. I’m a Pediatric Occupational Therapist and the founder of Nogginsland. I became a COTA in 2003, and then went back to school much later, receiving my Master’s Degree in OT from Mercy College in New York in 2016.
Over the years, I’ve worked with a variety of populations in different settings, from school districts, to developmental disability centers, to children’s hospitals.