Are we having fun learning yet?
● By Rick McGarry
By Marie Brucker, Vice President for Chapters at Michigan Association for Gifted Children
Your youngster back in school and they are excited about learning—or are they? The curriculum prescribed by the state is driven by the need to do well on the MEAPS. The method by which material is presented is not always a good match with everyone’s learning style.
Some children are good in all subjects, while others show talent and creativity in ways that are not taught or graded in school. When there is a mismatch of teaching and learning styles, children may respond by acting out, withdrawing, or releasing their frustration when they come home. Some will even truly feel too sick to go to school.
As your child’s first teacher, this may be new behavior you as a parent never observed prior to school. You know your child, so when they were at home you discovered and provided the types of activities which kept your child interested and involved. As school starts again, observe your child’s social and emotional behavior as well as their academic progress. Communication and active listening is the key in providing a safe haven and stimulating environment for your child. You may also need to continue to be a source of stimulating activities to make a not-so-stimulating day bearable.
For starters, have your child help you select a 3-ring binder to keep a notebook of school papers. Every week, sit together with your child to go through the notebook. Talk about what your child recalls. Was it quality work? What would they do differently? Do they have constructive ideas to make the work more interesting and challenging? Help your child in negotiating changes for himself.
Then, contimue to enrich your child’s life by introducing them to a wide variety of experiences. What was your child doing to amuse and interest himself before there was school? How can you broaden or enhance these skills? Help your child to continue these if appropriate, adjusting to their new time schedule. Keep it fun!
Take trips to museums, zoos parks—many of which offer hands-on learning.
Visit the local teacher’s store like Parent-Teacher Tech in Brighton.
Play games together that involve thinking and strategy like Rummikub, Set, Mathematics Pentathlon, chess.
Subscribe to intriguing magazines like Cricket, Lady Bug, Games, Discovery, National Geographic series for kids, Highlights, Science.
Borrow books from the library, some for your child to read, and some for your family to read out loud together.
Plan a trip together developing map skills, journaling, researching and a presentation to a grandparent upon return!
Take your child to a variety of concerts, theaters and plays. The local ones are often as high quality as the more expensive city versions.
Enroll your child in special classes or camps. When others share their interests or think like them, they are more likely to work hard to increase their skills. Let them see how excited they can be when they are really learning! Sponsor a club at your child’s school for his favorite interest.
Getting a taste of various creative and intellectual pursuits helps children to expand their interests and become more well rounded. They learn to take risks in trying something new. A child never knows they can dance or swim or play the violin until they give it a try.
But be careful not to overbook your child. Tight time schedules do not make for happy people. There is a fine line between feeding their interests and force feeding their interests. Their happiness is a good gauge of this. This means they must have choices and opportunity to negotiate and renegotiate their schedules while still learning responsibility for their own decisions.
Potential means nothing in a starving environment—enrich your child’s life.