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Children learn best through their everyday experiences with the people they love and trust, and when the learning is fun. As a public school teacher, I know that raising children who love to learn doesn’t happen by accident. Many families do all that we can to foster and nurture learning in the earliest years of a child’s life, as well we should. But when our children begin spending their days in the classroom, we aren’t off the hook! Continuing to build a home where learning is nurtured and valued is one of the best ways we can equip our children for life after graduation.

Here are some practical ways to support learning at home:

READ, READ, READ- Study after study confirms that homes that create a culture devoted to literacy are the homes from which the most academically successful students come forth. Look for books that might excite your child to want to learn more. Reading a book is the springboard for all kinds of enrichment possibilities: math, science, social studies, art.

EXPLORE EDUCATIONAL APPROACHES-If you’ve never done so before, take some time to explore different approaches to education. Children learn in a variety of ways –There are three main cognitive learning styles: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. The beauty of a learning-rich home is that parents can supplement their child’s learning in a way that meets their specific educational needs!

PROVIDE BALANCE TO AND SUPPLEMENT FOR CLASSROOM CURRICULUM-Ask your child what he would have like to know more about and explore those topics together! A trip to a natural science museum. A particularly fascinating work of literature might encourage a little digging to discover what popular culture was like at the time that piece was written. A unit on the color red could initiate a neighborhood scavenger hunt for all things red. Listening and responding to a child’s interests helps further instill the idea that learning is fun and is never, ever limited to a classroom.

COLLECT HOME LEARNING MATERIALS-Homes where learning is emphasized contain tools that encourage education. Build a home library. Invest in a diverse music collection. Display prints of famous artworks next to framed pieces of your child’s own art. Play board games that encourage critical thinking. Fill blank spaces with good words and clever thoughts signs that make everyone in the family stop and think. The number of ways to fill your home with the stuff of learning is limited only by your imagination, and you will never be disappointed by the returns on these investments!

Truly, the best way we can instill in our children the importance of learning for the sake of learning is to be life-long learners ourselves. As you go about your days spent with children at home, model for them the joy and fulfillment that comes from learning new things all the time.

 I know first-hand the temptation in thinking that school is where my children learn and home is where we play. The truth is, a playful approach to learning all the time is one of the very best ways we can equip our children for lifelong success.

What schooling choices have you made for your children, and how do you create an environment for learning at home?