Follow The Child
Engaging children at home – the stress-free way!
Helpful tips and tricks to make learning at home successful.
This is part 2 of the series. Part 1 can be found by visiting https://www.catkintoys.co.uk/blog.
Children love to learn. I don't think anyone could dispute that, but what we also know is as children grow, they favour some areas of learning over others. This chapter is all about how we can use our children’s natural interests to foster a love of learning, especially in subjects which may otherwise be unappealing. After all, we are all more likely to pay attention if the topic interests us, right?
Not all of these activities will be suitable for every child. Choosing something too easy will result in boredom, while choosing something too difficult will result in frustration. Unfortunately, there is no exact science, just remember to go with the flow. If something isn’t working, ditch it and move on.
It is essential to keep things as stress free as possible for both you and your child. Even professional teachers who have taught for decades will tell you that some lessons just don’t go to plan. Try to be flexible and remember that it is okay to go off script. If you were planning to teach one thing, but your child takes the activity in a different direction, go with the flow! You never know what you might learn along the way!
Over the next few weeks, I will be covering a range of topics on my blog. If there is any topic in particular you’d like to see more of, let me know on Instagram at www.instagram.com/CatkinToys.
Following your child’s interests.
You may have heard the phrase 'follow the child' before. But what exactly does it mean? Well, it comes from the teachings of Maria Montessori who suggested that children should be at the forefront of what we do. The principle is that we should watch our children to discover what they can do, what they can't, what activities they favour, which ones are too easy and which too hard. We must be guided by their wants and interests in order to facilitate meaningful learning. It does not mean we let them do whatever they like, but rather we learn their natural rhythms and try to facilitate this where possible in order to maximise engagement. Even if you do not follow Montessori principles at home, it is still a valuable principle which will help make the most of the activities you create.
In short, we should always keep an eye on our children's natural interests. I cannot tell you how invaluable it is to not just learning, but behaviour management and almost every aspect of parenting successfully.
For example, Arlo (my son) is absolutely car obsessed, so when setting activities or choosing books, I will try to follow that interest. In doing so, I am increasing the likelihood he will engage with the activity and make the whole process less stressful. As he gets older, I will use his interests to spark engagement, particularly when the subject is something which naturally he isn't very interested in. An example might be: if he isn't very confident with counting backwards, I would include the use of cars to capture his attention. Perhaps by asking him to order a set of cars with numbers written on post-it notes. Or by completing the missing numbers on his parking garage.
To give you a better idea of what this might look like, I have compiled a list of activities you could try for a range of common interests:
· Write a care sheet on how to look after them properly.
· Match the sound a baby makes with how they are feeling.
· Use their dolls fingers to practice the 5 times table.
· Read a book to their doll.
· Can they use different objects such as blocks or leaves to recreate an outline of their doll?
· Can they design and make a new coat for their doll?
· Measure ingredients.
· Explore colours and textures from different food ingredients.
· Close your eyes: can you guess what the item is by the taste, smell, texture?
· Make something to eat and write a recipe or instructions.
· Press blocks or Numicon shapes into dough to make maths biscuits.
· Mix different food dye colours together.
· What different pancake colours can we make?
· Count marshmallows on hot chocolates, sort ingredients by size, weight, colour, texture etc.
· Make taste safe sensory play activities such as blending cereal to make edible sand.
· Science experiments: what happens to a slice of bread if we put it on the windowsill and leave it overnight? What if it was in water?
· Use pasta, rice or