Learning Opportunities to Discover
Revised July 2009 by Kathleen A. Olson, Extension Educator — Family Relations; reviewed March 2016 by Lori Hendrickson, Extension Educator — Family Resiliency.
Parents are the most important teachers children will ever have. As a parent, it is important for you to support your children’s education both at school and at home. The world is full of opportunities that reinforce and expand what your child discovered in school.
The trick is capitalizing on them.
Tips for Supporting Learning
Here are some things parents can do to support their child’s learning:
- Ask questions.
- Point out articles of interest in the newspaper.
- Encourage your child to write notes, help with grocery lists, shopping, read labels, and help with chores around the house.
- Discuss a television program you’re watching together.
- Have everyone read the same book and discuss it.
- Watch the news together and discuss issues.
- Have your child help you fix a household problem.
- Discuss the meaning of new words and concepts.
Looking for Learning Opportunities
Apply homework lessons at home. For example, if your child is studying maps, make a map of your neighborhood. Sometimes this involves an outing. For example:
- Take your child to the library.
- Visit a local museum, zoo or nature center. Afterward, ask your kids to design a museum of their own. Ask them to gather information about an animal they saw there.
- Walk in your neighborhood. Talk about your favorite buildings.
- At a restaurant, have your child help you figure the amount of the tip.
- Go bowling. Have your child keep score.
What you do is sometimes less important than how you do it. For example, watching a sitcom together could be as educational as visiting a museum. Have fun, talk about what you've done, share opinions.
For more ideas, see the related resources below.
Dunst, C. J., Hamby, D., Trivette, C. M., & Raab, M. (2000). Everyday family and community life and children's naturally occurring learning opportunities. Journal of Early Intervention, 23(1), 151-164.
Patton, C., & Caspe, M. (2014, September). Finding time together: Families, schools, and communities supporting anywhere, anytime learning. Harvard Family Research Project.
National Center for Family Learning. (2016). Tips to make learning part of your daily routine.
Vacation: A Learning Experience — The more positive and constructive learning experiences children have outside of school, the better they do in school.
Winning Isn't Everything — Take a closer look at the sports your teen participants in, and find out how your whole family can get more from the experience. Part of the Teen Talk Fact Sheet series. English (482 K PDF) | español (190 K PDF)
Is School Enough? Exploring Interest-Driven and Informal Learning — eduTopia — Explore this video series about student engagement and passion-based learning for both parents and educators.