You may not realize it but your kids are learning from your daily life. We have not been doing a lot of formal learning during our busy and fun summer months, but I’ve been amazed to recognize some of the unexpected ways my fifth grader has been learning from our daily life this summer.
I knew that our regular routines helped him learn, but the thing we do daily are helping him to become an educated, independent thinking individual. Here are a few ideas of what you can do to encourage your child’s learning opportunities on an everyday basis, especially if the or she is in elementary school.
Involve Your Kids in Adult Errands
As a homeschooling mom, I take my kids almost everywhere with me. My kids are used to coming along when we have errands to do. I involve my oldest in the planning process. I may even give him assignments that he his responsible to carry out. Now I let my son and my daughter see what it is like to have to make decisions alone, and to work together as a team.
Here’s a great idea! You could ask each child to plan one meal, and then to find the ingredients needed for the meal within their budget’s constraints. My son will love the challenge of staying on budget, and my daughter might find a bit more gratitude for what she receives if she sees there is a limit.
There are many fun ways to teach children about different subjects and life skills. Going along on errands is a great introduction in how the world works.
Include Your Child in Discussions about Adult Topics
Another way my son has been learning is by being included when we are discussing politics, finances, or any other adult topic. I think sometimes I assume that my son is too young to worry about it.
For example, I worried my son was too young to deal with the stressful news about the youth soccer team trapped in a cave in Thailand. To my surprise, in my son’s case, he was fascinated by logisitics of the rescue, and learned a lot about underwater diving, splunking, and world cooperation as we watched their rescue unfold.
From car care to our monthly budget, I sometimes mistakenly assume he will assimilate these skills later on or glean them from someone else. When we discuss the budget frankly with him, it helps him see the big picture, and it helps prepare him for the future. It is amazing to learn of the large number of adults whose parents never taught them about basic life management, simply because the topic was awkward or difficult to teach.
Allow your children the advantage of going into adulthood with a firm grasp of why they need to be involved as citizens, and what they need to do to provide a home for themselves and then manage it.
Share Your Struggles to an Extent
I’ve also found that when I am having a tough time, it’s okay to let my son know about it. I don’t give him so much information that he will become worried or deal with stress because of it, but I involve him enough that he can learn that life is not always easy.
As I let my son know of my ups and downs, he’s become better able to give voice to his own ups and downs. It’s a lesson in communication. He will grow personally and learn empathy when he sees that I am human and that I deal with challenges just as he does.
Ask for Your Child’s Opinion in Problem Solving
If you have a situation that needs to be figured out, let your child take the lead and offer his insight. For example, when we had two different event invites for one day, I discussed with him the pros and cons of each event and let him help me come to a decision. Also, if I have many errands to run, I let him help me figures out in what order we should do the errands. By providing my child with the opportunity to solve these common, everyday situations, he stretches his mind and thinks about each situation from several aspects.
When deciding on errands, for example, my child will have to take into consideration if there will be anything that needs to be picked up first due to time constraints on store hours, or picked up last due to the fact that it needs to be immediately taken home after its purchase and refrigerated. This may seem simple, but to a young mind it is an opportunity for growth.
There are many ways to teach your children through daily life experiences. Use your creativity to weave lessons into the situations you face each day. You will be satisfied when you look at your full-grown child who is ready to face the world because of the lessons they have learned from you.