10 Fun Ways to Help Your Child Learn

  1. Think ouside of the box - literally. Stop buying into fancy boxes containing "state-of-the-art" devices with exorbitant claims to build your child's brain. Instead, take your cues from your child. By taking the time to notice what your child is interested in, you can begin to see the environment in a whole new way.

  2. Plan a filed trip - to your own back yard. It's great to travel to the farm or to the zoo,but you don't need to go that far to build your child's brain. Kids can get a tremendous amount of intellectual stimulation from their own back yard, where they can witness the miracle of blades of grass blowing in the wind, of ants building homes, of tiny life teeming down in the dirt.

  3. Find the numbers everywhere. Just as you can find rectangles in the buildings and hexagons in stop signs, numbers appear at every juncture of your child's life. When your little one evenly divides her French fries with a friend or makes sure there is enough cake for everyone at the table, she is doing mathematics.

  4. Encourage your child to learn number sense in context. We all learn better when we learn something meaningful. A 5-year-old learns more about the power of money when he has to earn his own dollar at a lemonade stand (and sees how much it buys him) than he will ever learn from flash cards.

  5. Show your child that reading is fun. If you share you enthusiasm about reading and children see you absorbed in a book or newspaper, you will indirectly be teaching the importance and enjoyment of reading.

  6. Engage in dialogic reading. Just reading to a child is not enough. Asking the child to consider alternative outcomes, relate what's on the page to his own experience, and talk about the letters encountered in much more effective manner.

  7. Don't insist that there is only one right way to do something. If your child comes up with a novel solution to a problem, thats great!

  8. Make space for social time. Children sometimes just need to hang out with friends or to be by themselves. It might seem as if they are doing "nothing", but there's a lot to learn. Children need to be able to be spontaneous.

  9. Let your child take the lead. When you make play into work by controlling it, your children will lose interest and you will miss out on seeing them imagine.

  10. Join in the fun. Joining children in play is perhaps the hardest challenge parents have to meet.

Adapted from EINSTEIN NEVER USED THE FLASH CARDS: How Our Children REALLY Learn - and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Ph.D., and Roberta Michnik Golinkoff, Ph.D. (Rodale Books; October 2003)