We want happy and engaged children. It’s the pinnacle of home learning. The moments when your kids are swelling with pride because they finally tackled that hard question, the times they ask the most beautiful questions because they’re genuinely curious! There’s nothing better.
But happy and engaged takes work. You need to actively work with them in different ways to ensure everyone is in the best headspace possible.
Leverage their interests as learning opportunities
Interest and engagement are closely linked. It makes sense when you break it down. Children are more inclined to become active participants in their learning when it’s in the context of their interests.
For example, if your child is THE ultimate dinosaur lover, add dinosaurs into lessons. Read a book about a friendly dinosaur, practice math with ‘dinosaur eggs’ – the only limit is your imagination (and theirs)!
This approach boosts intrinsic motivation and drives engagement.
Make learning social
Learning doesn’t need to be a solo activity. In fact, for kids, being social is very important. It helps with feelings of isolation and helps their social and emotional development.
Friends can take turns writing chapters of a story that they email each other or maybe they can produce and compare artworks inspired by the same subject. For those movers among us, have them choreograph a dance together via webcam. This helps them stay connected while adding a little fun to their day!
Let them have a say in their own learning
Ask your child what they are interested in and what they would like to learn more about, then investigate ways of making this happen.
There are loads of self-learning tech resources out there: YouTube, Khan Academy, Codecademy, Duolingo, Yousician. Help your children learn how to use these tools to explore new and interesting subjects.
Also remember to work together to set clear learning goals. This will help promote ownership of their learning. Ideally, this will translate to their school-based academics as well, while keeping them intrinsically motivated.
Link learning to the world outside
Children must stay connected to the outside world. It is critical in a time when our worlds have (temporarily) become very insular and narrow.
Google Earth is a fantastic tool. Kids can use it to calculate distances between familiar landmarks in their neighbourhood, create fantasy maps of their own, or use street view to gain insight into faraway places.
Virtual field trips are also offered by heaps of places like zoos and aquariums via webcam.
Physical activity plays a massive role in wellbeing – physically and mentally. It can be tempting to become an expert Netflix watcher in your downtime but it’s important to make sure you’re moving around.
There are plenty of ways to incorporate physical activity into learning or just your daily routine. Some parents like to keep a gym hour on the schedule, others use it as a reward for a job well done. Whatever works for you and your children, just make sure to keep moving.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, keeping your kids happy and engaged is more important than any other academic milestone. We’re in the midst of some very trying times and the best thing we can show each other is a little bit of empathy. Enjoy your time together, learn some cool new things and we’ll all get through.