Try Something New This Spring
Updated: Nov 3
Keep Your Kids Accidentally Learning
It is well known that if kids take a long break from learning, they not only miss out on new information and skills, they can lose up to three months' worth of reading and math skills. With so much time away from school, many children and parents have suffered from homeschooling fatigue. Now more than ever, it can be tricky to keep everyone entertained.
Research shows that by actively engaging in your child’s education, particularly over the holidays, you can actually have a bigger impact on your child’s attainment than school.
So, if you want to keep your child’s brain buzzing and having fun at the same time, why not this spring try accidental learning.
Accidental learning is the fruit of circumstances that contrive and combine to provoke an unexpected learning turn. It may even have us learn something which we would have strenuously avoided had we been given a choice.
In accidental learning, you can advise children to take risks and positively value ‘mistakes’ as triggers or catalysts, leading to discovering ideas and deeper knowledge. It is a strategy, therefore, for developing creativity as an outcome of learning.
Here are some tips to try accidentally learning whilst having fun together.
Plan surprise adventures
Think outside the typical tourist spots for these family field trips. Look for revolutionary or civil war re-enactments, factory tours, renaissance festivals, historic home tours, ethnic festivals, botanical gardens, county fairs, living history farms, planetariums, animal sanctuaries, historic battlefields, lighthouses, ranches.
While on your day out, use it as an opportunity to discover how to use a map to plan a route. If you need to take a long drive together, think about making as many funny interpretations as you can of weird road signs or turn other cars into counting games and make up sentence starters inspired by beautiful scenery.
Get out your favourite recipe for some treats and spend an afternoon weighing, measuring and timing your bakes. You could even take this one step further and raise some money for a local charity by hosting a bake sale or coffee morning. Invite them to read through your cookbook, and write a grocery list of ingredients. As they shop with you, help them compare prices. At home, prepare the meal together as they read, measure and follow directions.
Get kids reading
Get them reading any way you can, including comic books, magazines, graphic novels, recipes, game instructions, reviews, product descriptions, song lyrics. And don't overlook the value of listening to audiobooks; they can introduce kids to books above their reading level. It’s easy to overlook the usefulness of tools like audiobooks in engaging children with literacy skills. Audiobooks are developing their memory, concentration and imagination.
Teach with movies
After watching a movie together, ask them more than - Did you like the movie? Talk about the movie's themes, such as respect, friendship, or kindness. Ask your kids all kind of questions about characters and challenge them to come up with an alternate ending.
Set up a treasure hunt
These outdoor treasure hunts require little more than a simple compass or a GPS-enabled device. Participants hide small, weatherproof containers for others to find in publicly-accessible places, such as trails, parks or gardens. After you post clues online, challenge them to go online, choose a destination, and use the clues or GPS coordinates to go on a real-world treasure hunt.
Wake up the artist in your child
Ask them to redesign the cover of their favourite book, DVD, or an old piece of furniture. They can experiment with a variety of new images, colours, words, and layout using simple art supplies or digital tools. When painting outside, there’s no need to worry about making a mess. Just use washable paint and the medium of your choice, whether it's construction paper, cardboard, or blocks. You can also create artwork with sidewalk chalk.
Fuel your child’s passion
Whatever they're in to find age-appropriate ways to feed their interests with books, magazines, supplies, documentaries, performances, games, activities, field trips, websites, classes, and clubs.
By sneaking education into fun activities, you'll keep your kids accidentally learning and developing their skills.
Sharan (JS Tutoring)
Sharan Spall BSc (Hons) First Class is Lead Learning Mentor & Private Tutor, Founder and Director at JS Tutoring.
Experienced in professional Private Tutoring and Mentoring for over 10 years, she has a large portfolio of over 200 successful clients.