Make everyday interactions fun and teaching moments for them
I talked about school readiness, and making sure that your children is ready before sending them off to structured schooling. If your child is not at school, it does not mean they are not learning. In fact, they are learning every second of the day – through observation or mimicking what you are doing, what you say or coping your body language.
Children are born learners! They are curious about everything, and eager to participate in whatever we do, i.e. cooking, when we are doing our house chores, or working in the garden.
As they participate in your activities, they are enjoying themselves as they are participating in what you are doing. If they feel that you are having fun and love their company, they are having fun too. When they are having fun, they are actually playing. When children play, they are in fact learning.
I remembered when I was pushing our younger daughter in her pram, my son, who was 3 at that time, was so eager to help to push the pram as well. I decided to buy a toy stroller and placed his teddy bear in it for him to push beside me when we were out walking. He was very content as he was participating in what I was doing, walking side by side, chatting away and he really looked after his charge – teddy bear – very well.
To a child, PLAY = LEARNING
I would like to encourage parents to consider making daily interactions a teaching moment, and preparing your child/children ready for school. I personally believe that those teaching moments are the best foundation you can give to your children in preparing them for school readiness (and for life in general).
Let me give you a very good example, which I personally believe is the foundation of learning at school.
I used to catch the bus with my grandmother to accompany her to the market. While carrying her shopping basket, I helped to keep an eye on the bus time tables, listening to her communicating and bargaining with the sellers, learning the different types of produce and the different ways of weighing and measuring. I also helped her to count the money and made sure we got the correct change back. We had a daily budget, so we worked around that budget as we shopped.
I also learned about how she greeted friends and communicated with all the sellers.
What did I learn from this experience going to the markets?
- Learning about numbers – time, reading bus time table, counting change (money) from the sellers, making sure we stuck to our budget, and learning about additions and subtractions while making sure we got back the correct change – the foundation of maths.
- Learning about conversation among people and how they get along, i.e. bargaining with the sellers, my grandmother was friendly to all sellers but firm when bargaining, or how she greeted friends and families in the market – the foundation of language and emotions
- Learning about the different vocabulary and "language" used – i.e. Learning about different types of meat, fish, vegetables and other cooking essentials – foundation of literacy
- Learning about self control by learning to wait for our turn to be served – emotional competency, which is crucial for school readiness.
- Feeling competent for what I was capable of achieving – Self confidence
- Having fun with my grandmother – connections and relationships – trust and love.
I firmly believe that by involving your child in your daily activities, you are not only creating opportunities for you to connect with your children, but empowering them with basic skills for them to thrive at school and to be a confident learner.
Involve your children in your kitchen. Get them to help you with grocery shopping, and get them to help with washing up the vegetables, chopping the raw ingredients or cooking for you – start at the heart of your home – the KITCHEN.
When you involve your children, you are encouraging them to contribute. They will feel proud of their achievement and contribution, thus they will want to help more, and by being more involved children learn through what makes sense and being able to apply what they've learned.
Also when they feel competent, children are more willing to take risks and challenges, and are more willing to step out of their comfort zone, which is also a key ingredient for learning and excelling in school.
Interaction – connect – empower! And have fun!