It might seem strange to list you as an essential, but it’s a core part of the One Hundred Toys ethos, to acknowledge the impact you have on your child’s attitude towards learning. We often think of learning as something that happens in school. But long before school or even nursery, parents are the first teachers children experience. The model for learning that you establish early on has long-lasting influence. For example, research in recent years has told us that in families where reading happens regularly from an early age, children’s academic performance is greatly improved. In fact, research suggests it can have a greater impact on their academic success than any other background variable like social class, wealth or ethnicity.
So, the earlier you get involved in your child’s education, the better. Learning begins at home.
All of which doesn’t have to mean dull sessions at the kitchen table reciting times tables. Keep it fun, and if you feel you have let things go, start small. Just five minutes at a time will have a huge impact. Here are some ideas:
- Read every day - even if it’s just one book
- Ask high quality questions, e.g. If you did it again, what one thing would you do differently? How do you know?
- Offer a variety of experiences. However ‘educational’ a particular activity is, if you do it too often you’re missing the opportunity for wider learning
- Revisit activities to deepen understanding
- Encourage different ‘types’ of thinking: e.g. evaluation, prediction, calculation, counterfactual thinking
- Provide lots of open-ended activities. An ‘educational’ toy with lots of buttons to press but which results in the same outcome every time is not really that educational at all. Open-ended activities (link) require problem solving and flexibility of thought. All of which helps your child learn to think for themselves, and that’s when learning starts