Your child learns so much when you spend time with them. Even with a busy schedule, you can turn a little bit of time into a learning experience for your child. Try these tips to get more out of your time together.
Seize the moment!
There are lots of ‘little moments’ during the day that give you a chance to connect with your child – when you’re in the car, at the dinner table, or even doing the housework. By chatting about what’s happening at school and in the family, and how they’re feeling, you’re building your child’s self-esteem and conversation skills. You can also build their responsibility and independence by asking them to help out around the house while you chat – for example by unpacking the dishwasher, folding the laundry or making the beds. Your child might think you’re making them work, but really, you’re developing their teamwork and conversation skills.
Make it count
When talking with your child, try not to jump in or correct them – just really listen and try to understand what they are saying to you. Show your child you are interested in what they are saying by asking questions – What do they think? How do they feel? Show that you’re listening by making eye contact, repeating what they’ve said, and smiling when appropriate.
Creating space in your schedule for dedicated time with your child really helps their learning and wellbeing. You don’t need a lot of time or to do anything complicated – just read a book together, go for a walk around the neighbourhood, or have a chat with them about their day at school or other things that interest them.
Be in the moment
During that dedicated one-on-one time with your child, be in the moment. Give them your full attention and avoid distractions such as checking your phone or social media. Try to stop thinking about other things – just enjoy your time together.
Praise your child for the things they learn and achieve. This will help with their self-esteem and confidence. Try using ‘descriptive praise’ – tell your child exactly what it is that you like about what they have done. For example, ‘Thanks for packing your schoolbag this morning, well done.’ or ‘It’s great how you worked out that tricky word yourself!’
Praise your child for their effort too, not just when they achieve something – ‘You were really concentrating when you were reading today. Well done!’ You can also encourage your child before and during activities. For example, ‘Show me how you can count by fives’ or ‘Keep going – you’ve nearly finished the story!’ Praising effort can encourage your child to try hard in the future, and helps them to see themselves as learners who can master new things.