Hello wonderful parents,
Many, if not all of you, are likely proponents of making learning fun, especially for preschoolers and early elementary students. One of the main reasons we do this is that it helps create a positive association with learning so that our little ones are more likely to internalize learning as enjoyable and in turn develop the intrinsic motivation to seek learning opportunities themselves. Instead of simply telling your child to sit down and do their work, which can create a tense and unenjoyable atmosphere, try to see what excites them and nurture their natural enthusiasm for learning. Of course, this is not an all-encompassing model, as kids inevitably have to learn that there are situations where they need to put effort into learning things they don't want to. However, if we can foster a more positive association with learning at an early age, youngsters will develop greater self-confidence and be more open to learning new things in the future.
So, how do we do this exactly? How do we get our little ones to enjoy learning? As mentioned above, some effort to connect with our kids and pay attention to what is important or exciting to them is key. If, for example, your preschool-aged boy is obsessed with dinosaurs (as mine was), ask him questions about them. Get him to teach you what he already knows. Not surprisingly, asking a few questions about his interests (even if it bores you to tears) will help ignite the little spark of confidence within him. Then find some opportunities to combine his love of dinosaurs with learning a new skill, such as categorizing according to different types, such as herbivores, omnivores & carnivores. Depending on his age, you could also get some dinosaur coloring sheets and help develop his coloring or printing skills by helping him print the different dinosaur names.
Through our Animal Mazes for Kids activity book (seen left), I created a maze reward system after the primary skills of letter recognition and printing practice. Allowing kids to do a fun maze after each letter encourages them to complete the primary skill activities to get to the mazes. I was lucky to have had the chance to introduce the book to a kindergarten class last year. To my delight, they were keen to practice the primary literacy skills as well as develop the less obvious but no less important problem-solving skills within the mazes.
Please find the time to continue fostering the enjoyment that comes from learning and, in doing so, create an even stronger bond with your little ones.
Joke of the Week (from my 6-year-old son Parker): What do you call a bee who likes to hang out at graveyards? A Zombee.