BEST STARTS FOR KIDS
Developing a Love of Learning
How can you encourage your children to want to learn for themselves?
What worked for me as a parent and teacher was:
I made learning fun, interesting and meaningful.
Most importantly I linked it to my children's existing knowledge and interests.
Over time, (in addition to encouraging a wide variety of learning opportunities resulting in them developing a wide range of knowledge,) I also helped them learn information at depth.
This inspired the children in my care, to really want to learn, because it was interesting.
So how did I do this?
As just one example the learning experiences that evolved from one day at the beach eventually spanned years:.
One day we went to the beach, looked in rock pools and discussed what we saw. We looked at and named the creatures: a crab, sea anemone, sea urchin, fish, star fish, a blue bottle (and for the older child galeolaria and cunjevoi.)
For the younger child's benefit on the way home we sang songs 1,2,3,4,5 Once I Caught a Fish Alive, A Sailor Went to Sea Sea Sea, Rolling All Around in My Boat Upon the Sea, Row Row Row Your Boat, and we made up our own song about all the fish are swimming in the water... sharks are munching in the water, jelly fish are bobbing in the water, etc revising some of the things we wanted to see and some of the things we actually saw.
A great recent song is Baby Shark Original on You Tube which your young ones will love. The extension video by Ping Fong is also funny when children act out the song. And even your older children will enjoy it because the tune is so catchy. Another Youtube video that links the sea to a phonics song is Kids Love to Learn Phonics song. Again the song is catchy.
Then we took them snorkeling in a marine park at Clovelly. They saw all sorts of sea creatures in their natural environment including Blue Grouper, assorted Parrot fish, even a Blue Ringed Octopus in a rock wall.
We went to the aquarium and looked at the many sea creatures available. Their resulting vocabulary became quite diverse. Fish were divided into subclasses: e.g. wrasse, cod, grouper, clown, etc and within each group specific names of fish were developed.
And during a later holiday we took them snorkeling on the Barrier Reef which added further to their knowledge. They hand fed fish, watched Moray eels come out of crevices in the rocks, saw clown fish swim unharmed through the stinging tentacles of sea anemomes. They swam with manta rays, sting rays and came face to face with a gigantic bull ray. They even saw a silver sea snake swimming nearby. And they also saw a leopard shark and numerous white and black tipped reef sharks.
Building on his interest of dangerous creatures we looked at a rain forest environment and discussed the many different adaptations of the creatures that lived there. We walked through a coastal rainforest at Port Macquarie. In the gift shop on the way out we purchased a rainforest diarama which we constructed together. And it showed many of the creatures who lived in the Amazon Rainforest.
By providing opportunities for learning at a young age, more synapses are created within the brain. This facilitates more information to be successfully stored and later recalled because it's linked to existing knowledge.
It also assists processing new information more quickly as the brain has more neural pathways to use.
Our book reading over the next week or so also linked to the theme of the ocean. There's a Sea in my Bedroom, Follow That Fish, Tough Boris (about a pirate,) Samantha Seagulls Sandals, The Deep, Warrugul Whale, The Rainbow Fish Series and another more recent one I love is Sharing a Shell.
By revisiting new concepts and vocabulary, in different ways, it reinforced and revised new knowledge.
By reading these books we were also able to discuss many of the social overtones relating to the books.
For example: The Rainbow Fish: sharing and being brave, Samantha Seagulls Sandals: self acceptance, Tough Boris: love, loss and grief, There's a Sea in my Bedroom and The Deep: overcoming fears.
And we also looked at a lot of different factual books about sea creatures.
Some of the books my children loved were the ones by Neville Coleman because the photographs were excellent. And whether or not they could understand the text we discussed the names and the classifications into varying sub groups. It has been my experience if you build real experiences into factual information children love to research and learn more. And there are a multitude of mid-range ability factual books available.
I then further expanded existing knowledge by linking it to related learning opportunities
Later when we went home we discussed the creatures we'd seen. We researched shark jaws on the computer and they could see the unusual way the teeth replaced one another. We were able to look at all of the different adaptations they had that suited them to their environment.
This became a springboard for learning about how other animals suited their environment; again the complexity linking to their age and interest. The computer program Dangerous Creatures became a resource that my three year old navigated with ease and it provided all sorts of extension information about animals which he shared with all of us.
From here we looked at books like Where the Forest Meets the Sea, A Nice Walk in the Jungle, Crunch the Crocodile, etc and began expanding on their knowledge about this other environment. We researched animals on the computer together and again linked it to real experiences by walking through coastal littoral rainforest not too far from our home. A follow up excursion to both Taronga Zoo and The Reptile Park again reinforced new learning.
But most importantly all new information had real experience behind it which provided a scaffolding link for future knowledge to build upon.
And we, as parents, shared interesting new information with our children that in turn made our children more willing to share their new knowledge with us.
For more ideas go to the links below:
Best Parenting Advice.com is a high quality parenting website designed with child and family success in mind. It highlights what successful parents do differently to those who struggle. Best Parenting advice.com provides free online resources for busy parents who want the best practical advice on: how to give kids a best start in life, better tips for parenting toddlers, effective child rearing strategies, behaviour management tips, successful goal setting and organizational strategies for successful families, easy family dinner recipes, self-care tips for time-poor parents and free kids learning games. The aim of Best Parenting Advice.com is to provide quality practical parenting tips and advice to best help children and families succeed, using the convenience of a website.
This website provides examples of what worked for me over decades and you are welcome to use these ideas as you see fit but you do so at your own risk. Best Parenting Advice.com does not provide any guarantee that this information will work in every circumstance with every family or with every child. It is your responsibility as a user of this website to ensure that you adhere to any recommended safety suggestions either implicit or explicit on this site and supervise your children while playing any games suggested. Similarly users of this website are advised to follow any recommendations for seeking professional advice as all information on this site is generic. Best Parenting Advice.com is an independent website and is not affiliated with any other groups, clubs, religious organizations or educational systems.
Best parenting takes time. The best parenting advice ever is simple: Do your best, don't give up and love your children, no matter what.