The importance of fun activities that promote learning cannot be over emphasized. Too often, kids feel bored or frustrated by assignments that they do not deem as relevant. Motivating activities can reverse these feelings and promote academics, as well as social and emotional growth.
Here are suggestions to help your child develop skills and motivate them to learn.
1. Community Involvement: Take advantage of what your community has to offer. See if your local police, fire department, 4H Club, hospital, and dance or martial arts studios run programs for kids. Arrange trips to local hotspots. Call in advance and ask what educational opportunities they give kids. Sometimes bakeries, pizza places and Japanese steakhouses give kids both tours and treats! Take pictures, and have your child write thank you notes. These notes make local community organizations want to do more.
2. Give Back and Help Your Community: Have your child help people in the community. For example, many nursing home residents would love to interact with kids. Your child can "adopt" a grandparent, become pen-pals, and make cards and crafts. They can interview their new friend and even perform for them!
3. Plant a Garden and Start a Store: Kids can help raise funds for community centers. For example, they can plant flower seeds, take care of their "gardens," and sell flowers to raise money for charity. Running a store will sharpen math skills.
4. Provide Quality Board/Group Games: Many kids are hooked on video games and don't get enough experience playing games with other kids. Arrange a game night with neighborhood kids. Quality games such as Scrabble, Boggle, Monopoly, Chess, Clue, Battleship, and Charades require strategic thinking and help kids gain important social skills.
5. Maker Fairs and Invention Dissections: Kids love to construct and destruct things. They learn a lot about how things work through maker fair activities. Under adult supervision, children can learn how to use tools and construct inventions. Many people have older machines they may be able to give you. Old hard drives are especially interesting.
6. Recycle a Bicycle: Have your child construct their own bicycle from bike parts. (You may be able to get unused parts from a bicycle store). This way, your child will learn how simple machines like wheels, levers, springs and pulleys work.
7. Sponsor a talent show: Many kids love to perform, and it is a great way to elicit enthusiasm as well as serious practice. Sponsor a talent show in your neighborhood. Encourage your child, and other kids, to write their own skits, poems, raps, and songs to perform.
8. Cook with your Child: Cooking is a great way of developing math skills such as fractions, measurement, as well as an understanding of temperature and time. It is also a great way to get children to follow directions. You can half, double or triple recipes. You can do science experiments to see what happens when you add different amounts of baking soda or yeast to recipes. You can encourage your child to develop his/her own recipes and try them out.
Want to learn more about this? Look for Serious Fun – Activities with Your Child That Promote Learning – Part 2 coming in February.
Harriet Isecke, a literacy expert and award-winning educator and author, is the CEO of Readorium. Readorium is an interactive online program that teaches kids strategies for understanding nonfiction, as it guides them through science books that automatically adjust to their reading level as they use the program. Parents can view their children’s progress 24/7. Readorium is serious reading played like a game
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