We hope regular visitors to guruparents.com are starting to notice some themes coming through. One that we feel strongly about is learning should be fun!
Why do so many kids love sports but not math? Why were so many enthralled by the Harry Potter movies but not the books?
In our opinion there is nothing intrinsically more ‘fun’ in playing than there is in learning.
Imagine if all school lessons were taught via Playstation but mathematics was not allowed until the weekends; or if from day one boys were told football was boring but important whereas reading was fun but frivolous.
It is largely a matter of perception.
Parents have a wonderful chance to influence their children in the right direction. Learning to count, read and write should be immensely pleasurable – numbers and letters are as much fun as football and ipads.
Another of our themes is that every little bit of learning is valuable.
If trying to kickstart your young child’s education is daunting, our best bit of advice can be conveyed by one word:
Your child does not need to begin school knowing the chemical structures of all 22 proteinogenic amino acids. They will not be expected to outline the primary causes of the Hussite Wars in Bohemia (1419-1434). And you shouldn’t feel compelled to outlay huge sums of money on preschool educational toys.
So many kids start school without being able to count to ten or recognize the letters of the alphabet. So many arrive without ever having been exposed to the concept of learning as fun.
As long as you do a little bit, your child can avoid falling into this category and will have a head-start on their education.
We noticed an excellent article in an Australian newspaper recently, by journalist Angela Mollard, which touches on these themes.
You can read the full article here, but here is an excerpt which really resonated with us:
I’ve heard endless conversations about schools: class sizes, league tables…. (and in) that time, only once have I heard the following: “I’ve got 26 kids in this class so, really, anything you can do at home will make a huge difference.”
When did we stop being our children’s teachers? When did we neglect to be the bows, as Kahlil Gilbran wrote, from which our children “as living arrows are sent forth”? Isn’t it time we stopped expecting every teacher to be Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society and inspired the kids ourselves? Carpe diem!
I care as much as any parent about what happens at school but, increasingly, I’m concerned with what happens – or doesn’t – at home. Reading isn’t learnt by osmosis. Those faltering attempts to unravel words – to understand their beauty and meaning – can be lost in the hurly-burly of a classroom. It’s one-on-one stuff; discovering together that Violet Beauregarde is the gum-chewer and that ‘step on no pets’ is a palindrome. Times tables? Yes, tedious. But sing them in an American accent and I swear they’ll learn them – if only to shut you up.
Our website is full of ideas to get you started. As an example, on this page you’ll find our collection of fun alphabet songs.
So if you are feeling under pressure to educate your kids before school – relax! Have some fun with them, enjoy the process and realize that even half an hour can make a big difference.