Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Relentlessly Fun, Deceptively Educational: Afterschooling Tips

Where do you start? How do you do it? Here’s a little advice
that’s based on my experience “afterschooling” my son for more than a year.
Make it fun.
The
activities you do will go over better if your child thinks they are playing.
This is why so many of the things we do are games and puzzles. Use the things
he/she loves (e.g. LEGOs, fairy tales, movie characters, art, fashion, dinosaurs)
as a way to teach challenging subjects.

Discover how your
child learns.
Sounds easy, right? It’s not. My son is a kinesthetic
learner. He learns by doing, not listening. Think about the school activities
your child enjoys most – is he/she up and active (moving around), reading, or
building, or are they theatrical, tied to music (that’s how we taught our kids
the ABCs after all), etc. When I worked with my son in the preschool years, we
used a workbook; he hated it. (Some kids LOVE that kind of thing, though.)

Make it a routine.
The more consistent you are, the less resistance you’ll get. My son expects to work together after school
and is disappointed if I don’t make the time for it now.

Ease into it.
No
one likes radical and abrupt change – kids or adults. If it’s difficult to
transition from afterschool time with friends, involve them. Have your son
shoot hoops with his buddies and keep score. Pull out a board game (e.g.
Operation is amazing for fine-motor skills, Cranium is good for reinforcing
simple shapes, and the card game War is awesome for working on greater
than/less than).

Use free resources.
The internet and the local library are your friends. If you want to do extra
work at home to support what he/she is doing in the classroom, ask your child’s
teacher for ideas.

Keep it short.
Your child has been at school all day. Just like when you get home from a long
day at work, you want to veg out to decompress, your child is feeling the same
way. Don’t plan activities that take hours. I try to limit our lessons to
around 30 minutes. If it warrants more time, I split it into two sessions and
finish it tomorrow. Have all the supplies and resources ready for your child.

Be flexible.
I
don’t have a curriculum. Stuff my son’s teacher tells me he needs extra
practice on, things that spark an interest in him, a book I find, or idea
shared by a fellow blogger inspire what we do. There’s no plan beyond the coming
week. And that works for us.

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