In the past, I’ve blogged a lot about teaching Pip at home and we even considered home education for a while. In the end, we made the decision to send her to school but that doesn’t mean the end of learning at home!
I’m very much of the opinion that education can and should continue at home. And no, I do not mean doing homework! Children learn through everything they do and there’s no need for it to be boring or hard work. Most of Pip’s reading, writing and maths skills have been learnt at home, plus lots of other knowledge about the world around her. So here are our favourite ways to learn at home:
1. Tabletop Games
If you read this blog regularly, you might have seen this one coming! Tabletop games are extremely varied and fantastic for developing all kinds of skills, from reading and maths to important social skills like cooperation, taking turns and being a good sport – whether you win or lose! My recommendations include Roll For It, Hoot Owl Hoot, Skunk Bingo and Race to the Treasure. There are also story card games, like Tell Me a Story, which are great for creativity and logic and also a card game called Foodeeze, a kind of food top trumps which is brilliant for teaching about healthy eating.
I know this might sound boring but it really doesn’t need to be. I keep a selection of letter and number formation, simple maths sums and filing in the missing letter sheets for Pip to do at times when I need to do some housework or cooking or just when she wants them. She gets a real sense of achievement from completing them and I often give her a little sticker as reward. I make many of my own worksheets but I also use Twinkl and other internet resources for them.
3. Barefoot World Atlas App
This is my favourite app for children and it’s been immensely useful for teaching Pip some geography and about other places and cultures in the world. She loves just exploring it on her own or we use it together. I ask her to find countries or to show me where you’d find certain animals. Where she’s taken a particular interest in a place, it’s led to lots of other research and learning. It’s a really good educational resource.
4. The Internet
Used correctly, the internet is the most valuable source of learning available and teaching a child to use it is, I think, vital. We regularly choose a topic and use the internet to research it, looking at photos and videos to really engage Pip. Recently it’s already started helping with homework she’s given from school. Sometimes it’ll lead us to printing off things for her to do like colouring in or worksheets or just a picture of something that’s really interested her to keep. I’m planning to paint an decorate a small cardboard box for her to keep things in such as pictures we’ve printed, her drawings and anything else that she’d like to keep.
5. Books and the local library
Pip owns a large number of books. Most are storybooks, some are non-fiction books on various subjects. She has a set of books designed for helping her learn to read. We regularly visit our local library to find more books to read. I try to encourage to pick up at least one non-fiction book while we’re there too. From books, she’s learnt about volcanoes, where our clothes come from, about different animals, history, geography and, her favourite subject, dinosaurs.
6. Local leisure centre
Physical activity and social skills are essential parts of education. Of course, school provides plenty of both but I think it’s a good idea to have social time and exercise outside of school too. We go swimming at our local leisure centre and Pip went to a Halloween party there last year but I don’t feel like I’ve taken as much advantage of the facilities as I should. I’m already planning to take her to at least one activity session there during half term, when she’ll inevitably be missing her school friends.
7. Museums & Local Places of Interest
If you look around your local area, there are lots of often low cost educational opportunities. For example, Cardiff, where we live, has two museums just in the centre of town, plus a castle which is free for local residents. Within not too far a distance there’s also Techniquest and a Wetlands Reserve in Cardiff Bay and St Fagan’s Museum to the west of Cardiff. There are also lots of events and activities going on all the time. Pip’s favourite days out usually involve at least one museum visit and a trip to Cardiff castle to see the owls that live there. It’s a great hands-on way to learn and gain knowledge in new ways.
Teaching children about nature and wildlife really requires an outdoor space. With no garden, we go on regular walks in our local park. It’s all about encouraging her to notice things – talking about different seeds and things we found on the ground, being quiet for a moment to hear the different birds, talking about how things have changed with the seasons.
9. Art and craft
Creativity and expression are very important in child development. In every topic we learn about, I try to think of a creative activity associated with it. I also let Pip freely express herself creatively too. We use paints, pencils, crayons, play dough and beads. I love watching her come up with her own ideas then work out how to carry them out.
10. Preparing Food
Cooking and food preparation are important life skills, plus it involve lots of other skills – following a recipe involves reading, thinking methodically, using scales to weigh ingredients. We make sandwiches, pizzas, pastries and lots of other simple meals, plus lots of baking! It’s also a good way of talking about which foods are healthy and why and what a healthy meal should consist of.
How do your children learn at home? Please share any ideas!