How to Encourage Your Child to Explore and Learn on Their Own During Lockdown
Encouraging children to become independent learners helps them to discover how to learn anything they desire. The ability to actively and independently seek out knowledge is a skill we use every day. Taking the time to build an environment that engages your child and encourages them to learn and explore is one of the best things you can do for your child.
Rather than seeing the negatives of self-isolation, focus on how much resilience and growth your children can experience during this time. Learning to work independently and stay motivated is such an important part of success. Many of us are trying to juggle paid work, housework and home educating so it is important that our children can learn by themselves sometimes.
I have found the following approaches to be really helpful.
Set an Example
Set an example for your child. Let your child see you looking for answers to questions, reading books, and trying new things. Kids will copy what they see and, in a home where exploring and discovering are a part of everyday life, they are likely to start doing so on their own. When you discover something fascinating, call them over to show them what you have learned. Modelling is so important - if you are lying in the garden sunbathing, you can hardly expect your child to be sitting at a table learning.
Stock Your Shelves with Books
Stock your shelves with books, both fiction and non-fiction. Books are a doorway to knowledge and understanding. Offering your child a large stock of books in the home and regular trips to the library are great ways to encourage them to learn and explore. Look for a variety of topics and encourage your child to explore the shelves when they come to you to tell you they are bored. The more books your child is exposed to the better.
We have been sharing books that we have finished by putting them at the end of the drive for other children to have. We also celebrated VE Day by reading The Diary of Anne Frank and then starting our own diaries about life in lockdown.
Buy Learning Tools
Purchase tools designed for learning, like a microscope and a large set of slides. Kids will happily spend hours exploring microscopic worlds using a microscope. Other great tools for learning include telescopes, science kits, and even a quality camera to document discoveries. Giving your child tools to explore on their own or with your help means they are more likely to explore.
There are also plenty of things around the house that can bring learning to life. We have marbled mugs using old varnish. Children learn best by doing, so get them using their hands to explore. Lockdown has given us the opportunity to be really creative and not be so regimented with learning. We are remembering that it is not all about passing exams, and that learning is so much more than that.
Teach Life Skills
Teach life skills and talk about why they are important. Children can help meal plan to ensure that the family is getting a balanced diet and they can look up the cost of ingredients to learn about budgeting. This is especially useful for teenagers who will need to learn to budget in preparation for university and leaving home. I have had my teenagers cooking for us during lockdown. My 16-year-old has learnt to put together a BBQ and cook on it!
Encourage Your Kids
Encourage your child's hobbies and interests. As your child expresses new interests and picks up new hobbies, use them to encourage your child to learn. Look for books, documentaries, and activities that are relevant to your child’s interests. Kids thrive when learning about things they truly enjoy.
Encourage your child to reflect on the things they have learned. A digital scrapbook or blog, a paper journal, or just talking to you each day can help your child learn to reflect and remember the things they learned on their own. This is also a great way to get your child into the habit of searching out new opportunities to learn so they have something new to share.
Let You Child Have a Say
Allow your child to be part of your homeschooling planning. From choosing a curriculum to planning field trips, giving your child the chance to have a say in what they are learning will give them a sense of control in their education, making them more likely to stick to the learning plan through their own free will.
About the Author
Emma is a busy mum, full-time blogger and ex-teacher who now runs three blogs - www.emmaand3.com, www.mumssavvysavings.com and www.reducedgrub.com. Committed to helping young people, Emma can be found writing about a diverse range of topics, from raising the aspirations and confidence of teenagers to day trips and holidays with the family.