The education of our children is becoming increasingly important to parents as we realize that more and more jobs are requiring a degree and because, well, we want our kids to be well educated and able to form their own opinions and make informed decisions through life. But the educational systems across the globe are struggling with more kids, less funds and overworked teachers. So what can you do to help your kid succeed? We know that kids learn way faster through play, but why is that and how can you encourage them to learn more while having fun?
When we are playing, we trigger a very natural instinct of curiosity which lives within all of us. If you’re playing with wooden blocks, you want to discover how many you can stack on top of each other before it collapses and if you’re outside, you might try to dig a hole in the earth big enough to reach the other side of the planet. But if you’re told you have to learn something – most often that you need to remember something from a book and repeat it back to the teacher – that spark and curiosity disappear, because all the answers aren’t being discovered, they are shoved down your throat. Encouraging kids to play and find out things by themselves through exploration and experimentation will do wonders for them and their knowledge.
Fall in love with science
If the first contact a child has with science is reading from a textbook – it will likely be their last contact with science. But a child that grows up planting beans and watching them sprout, doing experiments in the kitchen and looking through a microscope at a strand of their hair will learn that science isn’t abstract – it’s all around us and it gives us tons of ways to have fun and learn at the same time. Schools often don’t have the resources to do various experiments with kids, so it’s up to the parents at home to encourage kids and participate in this with them.
Develop social skills
Learning isn’t all about memorizing facts. A very important part of learning is social interactions and learning how to read social cues, empathize and be around other people. That is why you want to find the best playgroup in Hong Kong or some other major city near you to make sure your kid is with their peers and with professional staff that is encouraging them to socialize and learn through play. It’s important to note that kids are not born empathetic. It is something you learn in early childhood, so don’t be scared if your child is rude the first time they spend time with other kids and put in the work to teach them how to be nice, share and care about others.
Let’s talk a little bit about video games, which are a great learning tool. Primarily, because of the way they force the player to make choices. Often the player needs to quickly decide a course of action considering the information they have available. We make decisions every step of our lives and learning how to quickly process information and make a decision is a valuable skill. This can, of course, be learned through other play as well, but video games are potentially the best tool.
Learn proper reactions
When you’re playing pretend with your child, you both take on a role, whether it’s brave knights fighting a dragon or two dragons flying around. And during those interactions, things will happen that require a response. Perhaps your kid will say something inappropriate, they will accidentally knock something over or they will speak to a pretend person in a certain way. These are your chances to teach them how to properly react through play, outside of your role as a parent. Often times, kids will actually stage situations where they’re not sure how to react, because it’s easier than to ask you directly what they should do in that situation. Perhaps they will have two dolls and tell you “This doll took the other one’s toy. What should he say?” Be very mindful of these moments, because how you react and play along will shape your kid’s opinion on how they’re supposed to act.
Play should be fun for everyone and in one way or another, we are learning every time we play. We just need to make sure our kids understand that playing can be fun and that they can learn a lot if they just pay attention to the things they do every day.