Guest post by Tiffany Rudd and Deborah Pace Rowley
No, the blank does not stand for @*#@!! or #@&*%^!! Even if we are sometimes tempted to swear when we think of learning, school, and homework in the same sentence with our kids. The blank in the sentence above needs a preposition. More specifically, it needs the right preposition. So what preposition is usually linked to the word learning when it comes to our children? Is there a preposition that should be linked to learning to help our children succeed? Can any preposition change the frustration we sometimes feel as parents helping our children learn? Here are your choices: Learning To, Learning For, Learning At, Learning With, Learning About, or Learning From.
Learning to ride a bike, learning to write your name, learning to speak Spanish. What skills does your child need to learn this year? Who makes that decision?
Learning for the test, learning for the grade, learning for the teacher, learning for the absolute wonder of learning. What motivates us to learn? What motivations are we sharing with our children?
This could also be called lecturing at, preaching at, talking at or teaching at our children. Do you ever feel like you are “learning at” your children (blah, blah, blah, blah, blah) and nothing is sinking in? Could it be because all of the above types of learning are teacher or parent directed?
Have you ever considered linking the word learning with more child-directed prepositions like the three below?
There is something soul-stretching about learning side by side with your child. She brings home a question you can’t answer so you dive into researching together. He is interested in something you know nothing about so you sign BOTH of you up for a class. You can almost feel the tug and pull of two hearts knitting together as you learn. It is humbling to give up the “I’m the parent-I know everything attitude” and it takes letting go of your agenda and your time schedule, but the rewards are well worth the cost. Here is one idea you can try to help you learn with your child.
Plan this walk for a time when you have thirty or forty minutes to spend with your child. Fill a bag with some wipes, a snack, a magnifying glass, a small box, and a piece of chalk. Then begin a walk around the neighborhood, letting your toddler dictate the pace. Slow down and look at anything your child wants to look at. Gather treasures in the box. Use the magnifying glass to look at things up close and circle any special finds that can’t be picked up with chalk to show how important they are to you. When you have spent about 1/3 of your allotted time, clean up with the wipes, eat a snack and turn around and head home. Stopping early allows you to take even longer on the return trip if your toddler desires. It is amazing what you can see and discover when you aren’t in a hurry and you look at things through the eyes of a child.
Learning about your child involves embarking on the greatest treasure hunt you will ever encounter. What golden coins and hidden jewels will you uncover as you look deeply into your child’s eyes and tenderly search your child’s heart? Do you know your child’s love language? What color of personality does your child have? What are his hobbies? What are her talents? What does she dream about? Here is an activity to help you learn about your preschool age child.
*Mood Meter Print off a copy of the emotion faces HERE. These faces are a great tool for parents who want to learn about their child’s feelings. Ask your child to circle the face that shows how he feels about the topics below:
How do you feel when you go to school?
How do you feel when you come home from school?
How do you feel when you read with Mom or Dad?
How do you feel when you try to read on your own?
How do you feel when you try to write?
How do you feel when you work on homework?
You can use this activity to gauge your child’s feelings about many things, not just topics that are school related. But using the mood meter can help you to ascertain if your child is beginning to feel negative about learning. Being sensitive to your child’s moods can help you turn a negative school experience around before it becomes too late.
From the moment that they arrive in the world, our children are teaching us. Without conscious thought, our babies begin the work of changing who we are, what we think and what we care about. But this evolution can happen consciously too. It can begin with asking the right questions. Too often we get caught up in asking our children endless why questions. Why didn’t you do your homework? Why did you hit your sister? Why did you act up in class? There is a great deal more power in asking How questions of our children. How questions are respectful. They imply that our children are capable and wise. They say to our children: “I want to learn from you.” Here are some how questions you can set in the middle of your dinner table and use them to launch a discussion with your elementary age or teenage children.
How would you describe our family?
How would you solve this problem?
How could I become a better mother?
How would you plan our next family vacation?
How would you change the world?
How do you want to be remembered?
How could our family become better?
Just by changing the prepositions that we use with the word learning, we can open a whole new world of possibility and growth. In all of your efforts to learn to, for and at this school year, don’t forget to learn about, with and from the amazing little people that you call your own.
Tiffany Rudd and Deborah Rowley are sisters, teachers, authors, and mothers who blog at Puddle Wonderful Learning. You can find many more learning activities to do with your kids at puddlewonderfullearning.blogspot.com.
The blog feature ideas for toddlers up to teenagers along with mealtime and holiday activities as well as parenting tips.