Encouraging your pupils’ education beyond the school walls doesn’t have to be another form of homework. If you can instil in your kids a sense of learning being fun, you’ll avoid much of the stress normally associated with persuading young children to do their assigned homework, while helping them to come back to school each day with a renewed appetite for discovery.
Parents can start putting this into practice even before their kids begin school with this KidsDevelopment.co.uk article. Once those children have started their school lives, the trick is to make learning something children want to do, not something they have to do. Bringing their favourite home-based activities into the classroom, thanks to supplies from the likes of Hope Education, is perhaps the most obvious method of engaging young pupils. Sand or water play in school is something kids would love to continue in their own time; it establishes a virtuous circle of learning.
The following tips provide the tools to help you pupils better learners, even when they’re not sitting in front of you.
Start with a question, not the answer. A great way to end the final session of the day is with a compelling question: Why does the sun set? What happens when you mix blue and yellow paint? What would a Martian take from Earth as a souvenir? Merely remembering facts and information is quite dull. Instead, make your students want to rush home to find out the answer.
Challenge, don’t frustrate. While a little impatience can be a good thing in children - it’s a sign they want to learn - you don’t want to exasperate them so much they give up, something that’s more tempting to do with home comforts around. Therefore, try to match any task with their skill levels. As they improve, you can increase the difficulty.
Set pupils personal targets. By turning some learning into a game, you’ll can inspire children to strive to beat their personal bests. When covering a new topic, run through it with your class a first time and make a note of each child’s spelling accuracy or mental arithmetic speed. Keep it between you and each pupil, then challenge them to see if they improve by five words, ten seconds and so on, by the following day.
Nominate mini-masters. As you cover any subject in more detail, it becomes more interesting. One way to stimulate that interest outside of the classroom, is to task each pupil with becoming an expert in one small area of a topic. Not only will you be surprised by the wealth of detail they’ll have uncovered, you’ll also be able to further their learning by showing them how their area of expertise fits in with that of the rest of the class.
Connect a concept to their world. Once you’ve covered something in class, try asking your pupils to come back having found a real-world situation, in which it might apply. It doesn’t have to be anything as complicated as why algebra helps design rocket ships, just something they can explore and maybe even present in the form of a picture or model.
For in-school advice, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers website has some great insight.