The obvious issue is to provide a quiet place for your child to study. However, most parents are all up-to-speed on that and have periods of phone/tablet/social media-free study time agreed with their kids – especially as they get nearer to those critical exams.
How else could your home be ‘learning-friendly’?
There are several things you could do to encourage your kids to embrace learning rather than seeing it as a necessary evil.
- Start the way you mean to go on. If your younger children need help with their numbers, there’s nothing like a bag of marbles and some dishes to help them to get to grips with adding and subtracting.
- As they get older, what other learning aids are there around your home? Maps on the wall, checklists for historical events on the fridge (at least you can be sure they’ll see it there), labels in French (or whatever language they’re learning) to help get the names of household items embedded, you get the idea …
- Have a family challenge over dinner. Pick a subject they’re learning at school and ask them to talk for 2-3 minutes about the subject and then the rest of the family have to answer questions on the subject based on what they’ve heard. This has two advantages: the child whose turn it is to talk will find that knowledge ‘sticks’ better and the level of understanding from the rest of the family will show how well they’ve got their point across. The result is likely to be that they get better at getting the information across.
- Book reviews: Once a month every member of the family commits to reading a book and then having a family book review where each reader gives an outline of their book and what they learned from it – or liked about it. This is a great Sunday afternoon activity when the family is all together, whether it’s a cold winter day around the fire or a warm summer afternoon in the garden.
- Challenge each member of the family to find a use for maths in everyday life – no repeats. This may start off easily, but as time goes on everyone will have to be more and more creative.
- Have a language day or dinner. If your child is learning a language at school encourage them to use it at home. Language is learned better when used not just written – and the rest of the family will learn some words too. If your children are learning French, Spanish, German or Italian – maybe the next family holiday might be to somewhere they’ll be able to practise.
- Create your own Trivial Pursuits, with each member of the family being responsible for one or two categories, all relating to a school subject. OK, this will take time and means the whole family will need to do some studying – but there’s nothing bad about that. Start now and by Christmas you can impress the extended family with your new game – and knowledge!
These are just a few ideas to get you started – and, yes, they need buy-in from the whole family. Make it fun, have some laughs and don’t aim to be perfect.You’ll get far more respect from your kids if you get it wrong some of the time and they can learn lessons from how you handle that too.
As a parent your investment of time in your kids can never be too much – and learning will become just the way things are and much less of a chore.