The school is deemed to be a child’s second home. After all, children spend more time in school as compared to their own homes. It is here that the seeds of knowledge are sown. Conversely, the home is also a child’s first school. A whole host of learning that impacts success is taught at home – be it softer traits like punctuality & accountability or direct cognitive exposure to language & numbers.
The school system undoubtedly has distinct benefits of structured learning and social exposure. It is, after all, where children learn to make new friends, pay attention to teachers and negotiate their problems. Schools are also more than the four walls of a classroom. Most schools offer sports, clubs, music lessons and other extracurricular activities.
However, structured activities such as those in school do not necessarily give the necessary exposure to decision-making, time-management, personal goal setting and achievement, prioritizing etc. These traits are equally important to augment the core concepts learned in school. As Albert Einstein said, “Education is not learning the facts but the training of the mind to think”
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Hence, it is safe to say that ‘Education’ does not stop at school. It can go beyond academics.
Here are a few tips how we as parents, can help our kids learn beyond traditional schooling.
Be Part of the Problem & the Solution
We, as parents have a first-hand view of our children and their strengths. We need to observe and accept gaps in our child’s learning. For example, you may notice your 8-year-old avoids numbers and prefers to not engage in homework related to numbers or even on-the-fly calculations. While, it is easier to speak to the school teacher, it is essential that you participate in understanding the early resistance and work with your child to cope with mathematical concepts. Try to spend a little extra time with your child solving the math problems. Encourage math challenges, provide exposure, solve together and encourage trial and error.
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Learn by ‘doing’
Practical tasks are easier to understand for children. Puzzles and brain teasers force children to think rather than learn concepts by heart. You can start with simple puzzles and as you progress the complexity can be increased to challenge your child a little more at each step. You can be a part of your child’s journey by helping set milestones, encouraging and celebrating progress.
Respond Positively to Curiosity
Curiosity motivates children to think and explore. When you see your child being curious, use it as an opportunity to encourage and extend their learning. Supporting children in their curiosity will in turn raise your own curiosity level and you will be a great learning model. For example, your child may want to know why hens don’t fly. A little research on your part will give you the answer while opening up to you a whole new world of flightless birds.
Apply different Approaches
Try different approaches and see what suits your child best. You may have a game night of puzzles, perform some simple experiments in the kitchen, listen to audio-based stories with puzzles or simply watch an educational movie. Children need exposure to a variety of new challenges or formats to get comfortable with application of core concepts. Learning has to translate to real-life usage and that will never be standardized.
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Link the New to the Familiar
Helping children correlate between new concepts and information to what they know already makes it more likely that they will remember what they learn. For example, your child knows that there is day and night. You can probably chart the position of the sun at different times of the day to better explain rotation and revolution of the Earth.
Learning is a continuous process. Academics play a critical role in introducing concepts and explaining them to children. However, it is only when these concepts are applied in daily usage do they get cemented for life. The opportunity to augment learning beyond academics often lies with the parents. It does not stop at any particular age, and it does not have to be limited to studying from textbooks. Children who learn beyond academics are better prepared for success in the real world!
“Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school.”
– Albert Einstein