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Tips for Making Learning Fun
Written by Sarah Titus of SarahTitus.com
I love to learn. I could sit all day and cuddle up with a cozy blanket and just read for hours. Unfortunately, children do not often have that same attention span. As parents, we can’t just shove material in front of them and expect them to retain it and even do the work without adding a measure of fun to it.
Every day, in everything we do, we are teaching our children. Whether formally or informal. They pick up our attitudes, our likes, our dislikes, our bad habits! Eeek!
Here are some great ways to teach your children without them realizing it!
Lead your child through explorations
Children learn best when they are taking an active role in the learning process. Leading your child through nature walks, talking about the measurements that you are using in the kitchen when baking, or even reading your favorite books together will help your child to discover things about the world around them, while still having fun along the way. Every moment is an opportunity to teach them something. That may be pointing out all the red colored cars while driving to teach your kindergartener †colors, or playing a game to see who can count the highest for your 2nd grader. Sometimes it’s the simplest and “non-planned” teaching experiences that prove to be the funnest.
Talk about what your child is already learning
Whether talking about topics learned at home or school, have regular conversations with your child about new things that she has discovered. Encourage extensions of the concepts that your child finds particularly interesting and find ways to build on her understanding. My daughter loves to cook, so in order to teach fractions, I have her measure out a lot of the ingredients. This comes especially helpful if we are doubling a recipe!
Not sure what to do at home to support her interests? A quick online search is likely to lead you to lots of great ideas. Pinterest is a great place to start. You can create boards for each subject your child is currently learning to spark conversation and fun teaching tools. You can even make your children their own boards, so they get to see fun things they want to do. My daughter is old enough now where she can pin herself on her iPad, so she just pins all her favorite things on that one board that is hers on my account. It’s a way I get to give her a little bit of freedom online, but not fully letting her online yet.
Seek ways to make games out of learning
Remember the days of math drill games? Little did students know that it was a way to work on memorizing math facts. There are numerous websites designed to help make learning fun. A web search will help you to find sites for math facts, spelling, reading comprehension, etc. Whatever content area you are looking to enhance is right there at your fingertips.
Low-tech games are also great ways to help your child. Making memory games out of vocabulary words and definitions, creating quiz games for reviews or fill-in-the-blank games for spelling will help your child to have fun as she is practicing important skills.
Model yourself as a learner
Again, your child watches what you do and is likely to adopt many of those same habits. Do you explore new topics? Do you like to read? Do you love learning? Take advantage of local opportunities to learn more on a favorite subject (nature centers, festivals, etc.) If your child sees you enjoying these sorts of activities, it will show her that she might have fun doing the same. Likewise, involving your children in these activities also helps THEM learn as well.
Take the fear of imperfection out of the learning process
My daughter is very, very particular. Whenever she gets something wrong, she gets very upset and starts to cry. She wants to do her best. Sometimes I think her teachers put a little too much pressure on her at school, so at home, I am constantly telling her, “if you’ve done your absolute best, even if you get an F, I will be proud of you.” I am trying to teach her that it’s okay to fail. Better to try and fail, than not to try at all! That’s my own personal motto, and something I strive to include in my children as well.
earning can be scary, for children, if youíre afraid of making mistakes. By sharing with your child that you support her any time that she tries her best, it helps her to feel more at ease at taking risks. Mistakes can be great learning opportunities, but not for a child who expects themselves to be perfect.
Encourage at-home projects
Think about things that your family loves to do. Perhaps you like to travel or go to local museums. Our family really loves playing video games on our Wii U. As we play, I strive to work together with my kids. If they are lagging behind, I am patient. I want them to know that I’m waiting for them patiently and that we are working to solve a problem together. We’re not opponents; we are a team. We work together. I feel this is an important life skill for our family in particular. My husband of 14 years abandoned our family and moved 16 hours away and there is rarely any communication between him and the kids at all. I want them to know, that while we are down a member of the family, we are all STILL a team. We have each other’s backs, but this should be true of any family. Consistently showing your kids that family is a unit, a team who works together to solve problems and conquer whatever comes our way.
Whatever your family likes to do, use those things that you most enjoy together to work on projects that extend your knowledge on the topic. Another example would be going to a local train museum. Once you are home, search online for information about trains and make a poster together about the things that you discovered. Write a few facts about trains on the poster. Family projects will help your child to understand that learning doesnít have to be just at school. It is something that every human being does until they die.
Focus on successes
Your child loves to be recognized for her hard work. Find ways to celebrate what she is learning and the progress that sheís made. If she sees how proud you are of her efforts, she will be motivated to continue growing. Just be careful not to make it about certain grades or marks, but more about the journey they are taking.
How do you like to teach your children at home? What kinds of activities do you enjoy doing as a family that you could use to teach your children? What are your tips for making learning fun?
Sarah is a stay-at-home mom of two wonderful children. Her passion is showing other women in practical ways, how to quit the 9-5 and be able to be home with their little ones as well. From homeless to well-off, this single debt-free mom is most known for her ability to live well on $18k/year. Sarah loves encouraging others that dreams do come true if they are willing to consistently work for it. Follow her blog: Saving Money Never Goes Out of Style.