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At-Home Learning Tips for Parents
While teachers play an important role in a child’s educational experience for a year or maybe a few, parents are in it for the long haul. Most parents were their kids’ primary teacher long before their children started school, reciting with them their ABCs and 123s and teaching them the finer points of sharing and using manners. Once children start school, parents tend to step back and allow the experts to take the lead in teaching language and math, social studies, science, and the arts. However, no matter how prepared, understanding and imaginative teachers are in their approach, as children grow and advance, parents remain their most important teachers.
As such, helping parents realize the important role they play by encouraging them to continue at-home learning can make for a very successful year for students—and for you.
Pair this tip sheet with a welcome night discussion on how you see your students’ parents as powerful partners in their child’s education, and you’ll be on your way to having a wonderful year of teaching and progress!
PARENTS ARE TEACHERS, TOO
Did you know that children spend more than 80 percent of their awake hours outside of school? That means that they do a lot of their learning at home and in extracurricular activities. As a teacher, I consider what my students bring to school from their home life to be as valuable as the knowledge and skills that they will learn in our classroom.
As their teacher, I plan to make the 20 percent of waking time my students spend in school amazing and am looking forward to a successful year, but I’d love your help. As parents you’ve been, are, and always will be the most important teachers in your children’s lives. Much of what they will learn and take with them will come from what happens informally at home and in our community. Every day they learn from you, and there are so many ways you can boost their learning. These educational activities don’t have to cost anything or take a lot of time, but they have long-lasting benefits.
Below I’ve listed out a few ideas and tips on ways you can continue your kids’ learning at home, and I’m sure you have countless others.
- Help your child visualize fractions by folding napkins into halves, quarters, etc. If you’re using paper napkins, have kids label the fractions with a marker.
- At the grocery store, explain how fruits and vegetables are sold by weight and have your child weigh the items you select. Ask her to estimate how much the items will weigh before putting them on the scale. Then have her estimate how many items she would need to add or remove for the items to weigh one pound.
- Have your child calculate how much gas you’re using in your car or how much money you’ll spend this month on groceries.
- Bake or cook with your child and allow her to measure the ingredients.
- Turn off the TV and read a book with your child, with each of you acting out the role of a character in the book. Record your performance so you can listen to it together or share it with other family members.
- If your child has completed his homework and wants to watch a favorite program, use that time to reinforce reading skills. Turn on the closed captioning so your child can read along as he watches and listens to the program.
- Talk with your child about his day or about what is going on in our community. Such discussions stimulate language development.
- Encourage your child to use the library to find new and interesting books.
- Cut apart each panel of a comic strip and remove the words. Have your child determine what order the drawings should go in, then ask her to fill in the words for the characters.
- Provide kids with a paintbrush and a pail of water and have them write messages on a sidewalk, or give a child a flashlight and have him spell words for you on the wall of a darkened room.
- Have your child write a letter to a family or friend.
- Encourage your kids to keep a daily journal or a journal while traveling.
- Challenge your kids to come up with an alternative ending to a book or movie.
- Conduct a simple experiment with your kids to determine what household objects will float or sink in water. Or hold a test to see whether hot or cold water will freeze faster, checking the water at set intervals.
- If you have some empty bottles on hand, ask your child to add different amounts of water to them. Blow on the rims of the bottles to see what sound they make. Ask kids to arrange the bottles from the lowest to the highest pitch.
- Cook with your kids and explain the different ingredients.
- Take a walk or go for a hike and discuss your surroundings.
- Plant a garden or flowers at home and encourage your children to care for it.
Combining some of these simple activities with ideas of your own will make at-home learning fun for your kids—and can have a positive impact on their education!
Teachers: Download a printable version of these at-home learning tips with your students’ parents.