Beyond Homework:: Helping Your School-Aged Child Learn

Guest Post by Karin
If you send your child to school each day, there’s a good chance they are coming home from school each night with some kind of homework or practice. Math practice, vocabulary work, or nightly reading. Here’s one idea to help you extend your child’s natural interests into learning at home.

There is so much going on at school, kids often don’t have time to explore in depth an area or subject that they find fascinating. As much as teachers try to incorporate these high interest ideas into a variety of lessons, some kids just want more! One great extension is for parents to identify this passion and work with their child to learn more about a topic.

For example, a few weeks back my class watched a live streaming video of nesting bald eagles and their babies. We spent as much time as we could at school watching, investigating, journaling, reading, and learning about those eagles, but some kids just wanted more.

As parents, latching on to an interest and exploring it at home can look different compared to what learning might look like traditionally at school. It is also a great opportunity to spend some quality time with your child, work together toward a goal, and show that adults keep learning too.

How can you get started?
Talk with your child and see what they want to learn more about. The natural curiosities of children can often far exceed any adult dreamed activities! Take a minute to talk with your child’s teacher to see if there are any recent or upcoming subjects that they feel your child might have a high interest in. If a student is trying to include basketball in everything they write…it’s a clue!

I’ve seen interests in animals, world history, dinosaurs, airplanes, cooking, extreme weather, countries, inventions, future professions, outer space, religion, electricity, and more.

Do some quick brainstorming to see what your child knows, wants to know, and where you can find this information. Try to identify a clear topic to learn about, and keep a list of new topics to try investigating in the future.

To learn more, try investigating:
  • books, encyclopedias, library materials
  • online (with parent supervision!) for specific sites related to a topic
  • museums, zoos, or wildlife areas
  • Professionals in the field of study to see if they have recommendations or time to meet a future coworker!

Learn and Share
Every child is different. Plain and simple. Use what you know about your child to help guide them toward a fun, creative, and interesting way to share the information they’ve learned. Our world isn’t boring, and learning shouldn’t be either!

Sharing what they’ve learned challenges kids to understand new information, apply what they’ve learned, and begin to put key concepts together to evaluate the bigger picture and perhaps try creating something new. (In teacher speak, this is moving up the complexity scale of Bloom’s Taxonomy)

Ideas of how to share
  • Write a report, outline, or facts
  • Use a slideshow format like PowerPoint or
  • Create a mini book with important vocabulary, table of contents, and interesting facts
  • Make a poster or display board
  • Use some fun paper display ideas like brochures, dodecahderons, paper pyramids, flip books etc.
  • Make a 3D model, scene, shoebox museum display, artwork
  • search online, the possibilities are endless
Share the finished product with family, friends, and contact your child’s teacher. They would love to see what you worked on at home!

Encourage kids to explore, give them responsibilites, and hold them accountable to be the best they can be.

Helping your child find and persue a passion of their own doesn’t mean you have to be an expert about the topic they pick. Let them teach you, and in doing so they will find success and accomplishment in following their interests.

Karin is a 4th grade teacher and enjoys gardening, blogging, and instilling a love of learning in her students. See what else we do at school over at More Than ABC’s!

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