Sometimes the hardest part of getting kids to learn is simply getting kids to pay attention. Drawing and keeping their attention is tricky, so sometimes learning needs to be dressed up inside something fun. For aunts, uncles, tutors, and parents of students or home schoolers, here are a few different ideas to encourage children to embrace their education.
All of these ideas hinge on being interactive. These are activities you do with the children. Let them be hands-on in the creation or planning of these things, make them feel a part of it, and they will become more invested in the outcome.
Make your own flash cards – No matter what age or stage of development the child is in, flash cards are a sure fire hit. Topics for the cards can be colors, numbers, letters, sight words, fill in the blank sentences, math problems, animals, flowers, states, or any number of other subjects. Begin with squares or rectangles of blank paper, construction paper, or poster board (or simply use index cards), and using markers or crayons, dig in with the kids to make a whole stack of cards. When done, the child will be excited to play with the cards. They will not only play with you, they will show other kids the cards and play with them.
Field trips – Come up with a few different ideas for excursions, and present all of them to the child. Let the child pick the “field trip” for the day. Get a field guide for flowers, plants, or birds and go to a park to identify things on a nature trail. Go to a farm and learn about the animals. Go to a planetarium, or a duck pond. The destination isn’t all that important – it’s that you present it to the child as important. Where ever you go, investigate the place. Bring a clip board and take notes. Make it a learning experience.
Dioramas – Take a shoe box, some art supplies, and transform it into a scene, a landscape, or a place in time. Dioramas are fun and engrossing, but – fair warning — they are also quite a bit of work for the grown up. For this reason, don’t attempt them with too young a child, or you will end up doing everything.
Write a Book – Never underestimate the power of stories, or the coolness factor of a kid seeing that they wrote a book. Even if it is just a few pages long, it’s still a book. Stores sell kits for making your own children’s books, but any kind of sheet paper will work just as well when encouraging your child to tell a story in words and/or pictures. Very young children can just provide pictures, and tell you what to write. You will write the words on the pages for them, bind the pages with staples or tape, and now they have a book that they wrote. For older children, they can draw and write a simple story book on their own (with some guidance, of course).