How to Create a Learning Wonderland at Home
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Eating is a social activity that provides our bodies and brains with the “gas to go.” Create adventures in food by making games of small taste experiences through cooking.
And brushing our teeth is not just good for preventing cavities -- if your child brushes his tongue and inside cheeks, he stimulates his taste buds to accept new taste challenges.
TIP: Don’t forget to tell your child that his taste buds change every two weeks, so he should be trying “new foods” every week.
Never miss a holiday to make the most of the arts and crafts opportunities. Small motor skills are best taught through arts and crafts. If you’re painting a room in the house, let the kids “slop it up” before the painters come. Always have a truck load of art supplies like clay, paint, putty, slime, canvas, plastic, and more.
TIP: Don’t forget pet care. Cage cleaning, brushing, and washing the pet can be a bonding sensory experience that your child and pet will both enjoy. In the summer, I always had a garden growing and water toys of all types and sizes for a fully tactile (and wet!) experience that improves the small motor skills required for keyboards, writing, and other small instrumentation used in school.
Many call our sixth sense “self-in-space.” To coordinate and develop gross motor and core balance muscles, I’ve always had a range of equipment on hand like pogo sticks, jump ropes, a trampoline, pillows (for pillow fights), swings, more swings, and balls. Eye-hand coordination games like tennis, ping-pong, baseball, hockey, lacrosse, football, basketball, and biking demand that both our cranio-hemispheres come together to improve creativity and critical thinking skills at a higher level. Healthy body, healthy mind -- you can never get enough physical exercise.
Some other fun learning activities that were especially popular in my family: Game nights at the family table, “You’re a Star” home theater, magic acts, science and music shows with microphones and mirrors, and lots of other public speaking activities. We also made our own “Carpenter’s Workshop” and created our own photo exhibitions and art galleries. Our summer vacation fun included body-surfing, crabbing, and collecting. Geo-fishing is also a web-based geography game that’s become really popular.
You can’t go wrong as long as you keep thinking “outside the box” so that learning and fun are always in the same sentence. Anything you create or do will be a success and very effective as long as you make a conscious effort to be as creative as you can and really “feel” for your child. Then he can take control of learning in his own way. Your learning wonderland will start to do all the work, and you’ll be amazed at how much your children can teach themselves.
Louise Weadock is a registered child psychiatric nurse, mother of two, and the founder of WeeZee The World of “Yes, I Can!”, a health and fitness club for children and their families in Chappaqua, NY. Weadock is also a graduate of Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and owner of the 27-year-old ACCESS Nursing & Healthcare Services based in Pleasantville, NY. The programs at WeeZee are designed for kids of all abilities, ages 1-12; and its cutting-edge equipment, activities, and trained staff all aim to enhance and improve cognitive and physical capability by focusing on the five senses that challenge intellectual curiosity.