Friday, July 11, 2014

Teach Kids to Love Learning

How to Help with Homework

Like many parents, I love when my kids finally go back to school, but not for how quiet the house becomes. When the bus drops them off at our front door at the end of the day, we can begin our ritual of doing homework at the dining room table. It's our time to connect on a level that not only helps me share my love of learning with them, but a great way for them to share what excites them about school. Of course, it didn't start out as fun time, but I found out early on that completing homework does not need to be a power struggle and can instead be an opportunity for growth. Many times, it came down to finding the right approach to motivate my kids and being organized. Here are a few lessons I've learned over the years:

Homework with kids
Start off the School Year Right
I communicate with teachers at every open house, orientation, and PTO meeting I can attend to ask questions about future assignments, due dates, and any special expectations the teacher might have. 'If there is a paper coming up on famous women scientists, would a visit to the science museum be useful? Will the section on 18th century history have outside reading expectations, and do you have recommendations?' Knowing what the curriculum is upfront, and how best to augment the lessons, helps me plan how best to help my kids at home.

Work With Them
At five each school night, my kids and I will sit at the dining room table to complete homework. Instead of twiddling my thumbs and waiting for them to ask a question, I use the time to write, pay my bills, or something else work related. My kids feel empowered, sharing the experience of working at the table on something they recognize important - their homework. And, of course, I'm right there for any questions.

Be Like Socrates
kids homework When my kids wants me to provide a quick answer, such as 'Why do birds fly south for the winter,' I ask them questions designed to lead them to the solution. 'What is the weather like here in December? Why don't birds like snowstorms?' This builds the lesson into a conversation, and shows a practical application for the information they are learning. If they understand it, they can use it- and that is the true purpose of school work.

Useful Resources
I realize I don't have the answers to everything, so I have a toolkit of free, online educational sites to help my kids and I to succeed. Our favorites are PBS Kids, National Geographic Kids, and Kahn Academy. Each of these sites helps with fun learning activities to boost my kids' understanding of topics ranging from lion pride migration to algebraic computation.

Remember, this won't happen overnight. The key is remembering kids want to succeed, and when you stick to your program as a parent, you can enjoy watching them bloom with a love of learning.