With our busy lifestyles and work loads you can miss valuable signs and opportunities of getting to know your child. By not taking time to talk with your child about their experiences and noticing what they are really enjoying means you are not truly aware of their interests. In return you will not be able to provide them with the adequate and valuable stimulation they need.
Children are self motivated when they are ‘interested’ in what they are doing
Children will spend more time on an activity and give their full attention when it is something that they actually enjoy. This then promotes self help skills and thus someone who is willing to learn. This is a modern theory that forward thinking schools have adopted. The activities are generated to match the learner. Thus I urge you not to ‘force’ your child into activities they are not really enjoying, try to provide activities you know they will enjoy. For example if you want to help your child with counting and they enjoy building with blocks, have fun building brick towers together. After 30 seconds/1 minute count who has more bricks. Count all the reds, blues, who as the most etc. Try to disguise the learning.
In an ideal world we would could all avoid activities we do not like but…
It is also important for children to realize that sometimes we have to participate in activities that we do not enjoy. Just ensure to get the balance right.
Mums and dads would leave the laundry pile until it hits the sky and the lawn that needs mowed would become a jungle. But unfortunately we do not live in an ideal world. It is important that you address the fact that in life children will have to participate in activities / exercises that are not optional, especially when they begin school, or when they have to tidy up their toys at home. In my experience I have learned to adapt activities for those children who are less ‘ willing’ or ‘ interested’ and add some fun. For example, if i now a child is not really into reading I will say before reading time:
I am going to let one person wear my special reading glasses today. I will choose someone who has tried really hard with their reading over the past week.
I will ensure to choose the child who I know will struggle. They get to wear the funny plastic frame glasses for the entire time they can manage to read. This is one simple idea that can be used and adapted at home too.
Fun ways to encourage participation at home
Use your imagination and add a quirky fun edge to the less exciting but essential activities. Maybe they can make a den to do their school work in. I have also found that turning everything into a ‘game’ works wonders. If it is time to do their sums, you do it too and see who finishes first. Another good way to encourage participation is to follow up with an activity you know your child will enjoy and love. Let them know the reward. Thus they learn that sometimes doing things we don’t really want to, can lead to better things.
Also ensure that your activities you provide at home meet the age and ability of your child. If it is too difficult they will quickly become bored and have their confidence knocked. It is better to make the activity easy to begin with and make it progressively more challenging.
Fun ideas of how to Spend time getting to know your child’s interests:
- Talk with your kids about their day and ask them what they liked about it. Use their suggestions and organize a day dedicated to their interests. Maybe a trip to the zoo if they love animals. Let them know that it is their day.
- Buy books, games and toys that are related to their interests.
- Make a scrap book together about all the interesting things you find out together and things your child would like to learn more about. Arrange activities that explore these curiosities.
Check out Activities That Match Interests & Learning Levels for more ideas.