Education and the process of learning is something that begins at home for children. Parents naturally want their children to do well in school, but this desire often clashes with other adult priorities (parents also want their children to be active and learn new hobbies), not to mention the children’s own to-do lists. There’s only so long a youngster is willing to do homework or read, before wanting to run off and do something a bit more fun.
Not to worry! Here are some ideas for taking education out of a formal setting and making it enjoyable, through the medium of play. These are games for kids with an element of simple learning. Even better, your child won’t be sitting in front of a computer screen with these fun activities.
A fun mathematical challenge to play outside in the park would be to create a “fraction wall” using sticks. The first row of the wall is a whole stick, the row below it must be exactly the same length…but be composed of 2 sticks, the row below is composed of 3 sticks, etc. This game can be done in teams – perhaps racing to construct the best fraction wall in the fastest time. This can help children to visualise what fractions such as 1/2 or 2/3s look like.
There are also a lot of mathematically-themed board or card games available for children of all ages. Some revolve around multiplication, others around addition. The advantage of sitting down at the kitchen table to play a maths game rather than hunting for online ones is that in addition to maths, your child will be learning important lessons about teamwork and social interaction.
“Jumping Bean Phonics” is ideal for children just beginning school who are still learning the basics of reading and writing. This game can be played in small groups indoors.
A number of simple, but common word endings (for example –ot, –og, –at) are written onto sheets of paper and laid out over the floor. The adult supervising the game has a set of cards each with a letter (for example h–, c–, l–). Each child gets a turn at being the “jumping bean”: when they are told their first letter they have to form as many correct words as they can in a given amount of time by jumping onto the particular ending card. So, if they were given the letter ‘m’, they could jump onto ‘–at’ to make ‘mat’; but jumping onto ‘–og’ wouldn’t count, because ‘mog’ isn’t a proper English word. At the end of the game, whoever has formed the most words in their allotted time wins.
There are a lot of safe, easy experiments that children can perform at home which showcase the wonders of science and give them the opportunity to learn something interesting. One such challenge might be designing a parachute that lowers an object safely to the ground.
But budding biologists can learn a lot about types of plants just by playing in their local park. Treasure hunt clues might guide a child around a natural space by identifying species of tree, or part of the challenge could be bringing back leaves from a particular plant in a certain amount of time.
Education and knowledge aren’t just something that’s confined to the classroom or that has to be taught in a dull way. A passion for learning can be instilled just as effectively at home through games, playing outdoors, and having lots of fun.