Our school system and children performance in the united states has fallen year after year compared to the rest of the nation’s. And the divorce rate in this country has been steadily rising as our performance falls…which means that families that would assist their children with school are now split apart and we have two working parents. As single fathers we can’t depend on or rely on our other half to educate during their weekends…it’s great if they do…but if they don’t, your children will become another statistic.
I have learned a lot teaching my son about dinosaurs, the planets, trucks, planes, air and water pressure…the list goes on and on. Bottom line: science is cool…playing with magnets, chemicals, and understanding how and why things work gives your child an understanding of WHY things occur and to encourage them to ask questions and seek answers…both via google and going to the library and getting a book.
I have set up challenges for my son with the same encouragement that an athlete would get going into a game or a first down. Counting to 100…”you got this”…tons of high fives…writing his name…learning to read…etc. These are great to talk about to encourage how much better they are getting, letting them know how proud you are of them and how you can’t wait to see them be able to do whatever. Kids want to perform and don’t want to let you down; the earlier you start this pattern of encouragement the more your creating an intrinsic motivation within your child. What is Intrinsic motivation? it refers to behavior that is driven by internal rewards. In other words, the motivation to engage in a behavior arises from within the individual because it is intrinsically rewarding. This contrasts with extrinsic motivation, which involves engaging in a behavior in order to earn external rewards or avoid punishments.
When my son was younger I found that the metro-parks a city park had multiple parks with programs designed for different ages. I would sign my son up in advance and then go to the library and get a kids book on the topic. Every year during mating season there is always a group that goes down and looks for frogs and salamanders and this year my 2 year old son and I tagged along. Finding frogs and salamanders was his most memorable experience he had just learned to count and speak and we found two frogs and two salamanders after spending all week reading about them. The next morning I woke up to my son wanting to hear about frogs and salamanders and for me to read the book again…I was hearing a 2 year old reading and remembering what I had read and using a vocabulary word “amphibians”.
What kid doesn’t love planes. Local airports are great for kids to sit and watch them…bring a sandwich and a book about planes in between flights and now you have a great afternoon.
On a trip I took my son to see a show, he fell asleep and missed the 2nd half, I was disappointed he missed it and wouldn’t get the appreciation of the trip. When he woke up he didn’t stop talking about the show…it was then that I realized that our expectations are very different than our kids who are experiencing these things for the first time. Something so small can make the largest impact on a child. These are low cost, highly entertaining shows...check out Children's Theatres and local School Plays.
Here are some learning topics that are always fun and of course may change based on age:
- Combustion engine 5 and up
- Planes, Cars, Trucks and Trains 5 and below
- Dinosaurs - up to age 12
- Frogs, Bugs, Salamanders, Fish all ages
- Physics - all ages
- Magnets - 5 and under
- Making a speaker from magnets - 6 and over
ANIMALS KIDS LOVE TO LEARN ABOUT
Getting a Small Kids Book from the Library Followed By a Trip to the Zoo or Youtube makes for a great time
- Dinosaurs (technically not an animal)
Indoor Activities (rainy days)
- State Parks
- County/City Activity Center
- Home Depot/Loews Kits
- Local/Metro-Parks/State Parks
- County/City Activity Center
- Bike Riding/Hiking/Kyaking
- Looking for/at wildlife
Never force your child into trying to enjoy something…I was at an art museum with my son…we moved through it quickly looking at the cool stuff. There was a kid crying and the mother looking at every painting…if the kid is not happy take them home and play a board game…make it fun for the kid and definitely don’t ruin other people’s time.