There are many things parents can do at home that not only will make their children more successful at school but will also make learning fun.
The best activities are those which involve children actively rather than passively with pencil and paper tasks.
For the very young child, the parent and child can name the objects in the room together.
The parent can then ask the child to bring the objects to him or her.
The parent can make a scrapbook of common objects for the child to name. The child can rhyme nonsense words. For example, what sounds like "lunny"?
Games are wonderful ways for the child to learn and for the family to have fun.
A parent can help a child learn two step directions, then increase them to three and four steps. A parent can say nursery rhymes and put them on a tape so that the child can play them over and over. Playing rhyming games with the child helps. For example, What two words sound alike: tan, ten, bag, man. Activities such as these prepare the child to learn to read.
It also helps if parents read aloud to their children. Current research shows that children who were read to only ten minutes four times a week reached higher levels of reading achievement than children who were not read to at all.
If parents can spare more time, the children do even better. Children should be encouraged to talk about the story and ask questions.
When parents read aloud to their child they should ask the child warm-up questions before beginning the book. It also helps to ask a variety of questions during the reading: What do you think will happen next?
How do you think the little boy feels? Could the little boy in the story have done something else to solve his problem? How do you know the story takes place in winter? Do you remember what the little boy was wearing?
Which person in the story did you like best? Parents could also add their own ideas about the story and what they liked about it. Do not put pressure on the child to read but make the time together pleasant.
In the area of math development there are many fun activities parents can do with their children. The child can help set the table, counting the knives and forks and matching them to each person's place at the table. Making a cake helps a child learn math concepts. Playing a game like Bingo helps a child recognize the numbers. Playing card games helps the child understand numbers and sequencing.
Games are wonderful ways for the child to learn and for the family to have fun. Simple Simon is an old favorite.
Jigsaw puzzles of all levels of difficulty are very helpful.
Stringing different size buttons is fun as is lacing pictures with colored yarn.
Playing with marbles and jump roping are helpful for coordination.
A game of Pick-Up-Sticks helps develop eye-hand coordination.
Bean bags and targets as well as ring toss games help with coordination too.
There are many games to play while traveling in the car. One is called Alphabet Hunt. This involves finding words on signs that begin with letters of the alphabet in order.
Young children can have a copy of the alphabet in front of them to help them remember which letter comes next. It is always fun to make up a story. One person begins the story and the next person adds to the plot. Singing is also a pleasant activity which helps children learn.
I encourage parents to help their children become life-long learners by providing them with pleasant learning experiences and activities which prepare them to take the next step and meet with success.
First published in 1988