As we sat and thought about the topic for The LIT Group's first blog post, one stand alone group popped into my thinking-PARENTS. Parents have been wearing a lot of hats these days and are perhaps feeling overwhelmed and challenged when it comes to the heavy expectations placed upon them during this trying time. Firstly, remember that you are not alone in navigating all that is going on. Secondly, the sudden role of "teacher" may feel uncomfortable as you aren't sure if what you are doing is “right” or if it's how it "should" be done, but we want to encourage you to throw away the idea of “right” or “perfect’ and instead think of ways to maximize your child’s learning through your home environment and the potential learning opportunities that you are in charge of everyday.
Learning happens everyday whether or not we intentionally create it. We know this, but we panic sometimes because we feel that learning has to look a particular way. Instead, we encourage parents to think of the skills that their child really needs and think about the connections you can make in your everyday life that taps into this need. By this, we mean focus on what you can do that has the chance to affect learning. Perhaps break down your approach into several different thought groups.
How can I use an ordinary, routine thing that I do everyday and give my child more responsibility for them?
Every child is different but one area that parents can reinforce that pays dividends is habits and strategies. Organisational skills are crucial for life success so why not hone in on this and take a break from traditional book learning? What are some ways that you can promote habits and routines around the house that promote responsibility and leadership?
LEADERSHIP/EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONING/ORGANIZATIONAL SKILLS
Grocery Shopping! Have them plan the weekly grocery shop- create and plan the list, create a budget and have them help you do the actual work of planning, budgeting and shopping.
Plan a Trip! Create a family weekend trip itinerary and give your kids the chance to plan and organize the trip from packing, organizing, and executing the parts that they can. This way, they can see why planning and organizing skills are so important for everyday things- not just school work!
Garden! Plan a garden together. Draw, plan and plant! Kids love getting their hands dirty but also help them to do the thinking and organizing first! Here is a great sight that will walk you through the steps of planning a vegetable garden with your kids.
MATH, SCIENCE AND READING SKILLS
Food! Food, cooking and baking are great ways to involve math and reading all at once. Try baking and making your own pizza dough. Have your kids read the recipe (with your help, if needed) and follow the instructions. Converting ingredients is a great way to involve math. Try creating a family recipe book of everyone’s favourites. Put them in charge of planning and creating their own dinner nights.
Go Outside with a Purpose! Plan a walk or hike with your kids. Practice navigational skills and reading maps. Have them lead a walk or create a map of the neighbourhood. Geocaching is a great hobby you can do with your kids. If you haven't heard of it, make sure to check it out. This real-life treasure hunt will not only teach you navigational skills, you'll expose them to so many new places!
Music! Have your kids learn a new song or practice their songwriting skills. Music is an excellent way to promote memory, and reduce stress in a fun way.
Make a Business Plan! All kids love the idea of putting together a lemonade stand or a dog-walking business but before you agree, make them draw up a business plan. Even if they can't bring their actual plan to fruition during COVID times, they'll have a plan ready to go for next summer!
Read! You can listen to books in the car, at home and read together. Create a cozy reading space in your home and have a family book you read together. Listen to a podcast together. Write a play. Create a radio show and give roles to the whole family!
Build something! Get out there and build that treehouse or skateboard or whatever strikes their fancy. There are loads of math and measuring opportunities when building something so this is a great way to work in some of those skills.
Good old-fashioned board games and puzzles! Kids love games! Monopoly night with the family, puzzle nights, a mysterious game of Clue, or Chess. All of these games are fun and create opportunities to use critical thinking skills. Plan a mystery night, or a whodunit night where members of the family are assigned characters and one person is the person who committed a crime. The players need to figure out who the bad guy is.
These are just suggestions but, really, the emphasis is on shifting the learning paradigm and turning some of those long summer days into doable, fun everyday living and learning. We have all been under a great deal of stress so summer is a good opportunity to relax and learn in some not so traditional ways.
We will be including more tips and tricks for working at home with your kids.
In the meantime, try not to feel pressured into doing it "right" and try to enjoy your self-designed learning moments!
The LIT Group
Michelle McIntosh, Jenn Clark and Gavin Reid