The preschool years represent a formative period for students of all backgrounds.
tChildren slowly adjust to the demands of a structured academic environment, and their curiosity and zest for knowledge begin to equip them with the tools necessary for later inquiry. This love of learning is critical, and there are many ways to foster a deep interest in books, facts and academics as a whole. Here are seven to try at home with your own student.
1. Set a positive example
t If you hope to raise a child who embraces the process of learning, you must first demonstrate the same trait. Your preschool student will follow your example; allow her to see you as you read or as you investigate an unfamiliar subject or object (such as an unrecognizable beetle in your garden).
2. Participate in her journey
t Just as your child expresses interest in your actions and hobbies, show your interest in hers. Ask her questions as she plays, and answer any questions that she poses to you. Your commitment to her learning emphasizes its importance, and simply holding a genuine conversation can serve as positive reinforcement for your student.
3. Follow her passions
t True learning is not possible without engagement. If your child loves to tell stories, build time for dramatic play into your schedule. If she enjoys cooking, experiment with sensory activities that utilize common kitchen ingredients. Better yet, invite her to assist with household chores. A sense of purpose may deepen her appreciation for and connection to the knowledge she gains.
4. Incorporate outside activities
t”Outside,” here, refers not to nature specifically, but to experiences beyond the home and the school: field trips. Museums and parks, among other locations, can present your student’s passions in an exciting new light. Explore all angles of a subject, and remember that many meaningful activities (e.g. browsing books at the library) can be accessed free of charge.
5. Select age-appropriate pastimes
t As you likely realize, your interests do not always align with your child’s. If your student wishes to dig for dinosaur bones, rather than view them in a natural history museum, opt for the first. Disinterest can slow a burgeoning love for learning in very little time. When in doubt, choose hands-on activities.
6. Be flexible
t Your child may maintain a single interest for months or years, or your student may develop an entirely new fascination every few days. Both paths are perfectly acceptable. Do not pressure her; instead, foster her curiosity, wherever it may lead. By experimenting in different fields now, your child can strengthen multiple literacies that will be critical in higher grades.
7. Document and reflect
t As you and your student explore topics, document your progress with photographs, stories, videos, etc. Review these items together and reflect on what you have learned. Does your child have other questions? Other observations? One passion may lead to dozens more, and reflection helps your student think critically about their connections, a useful skill for the years ahead.
tFor more tips and strategies to help your student succeed in school, visit www.varsitytutors.com.