Educate by Example
By Zelda Jones
Now that children are in school, it is more important than ever to demonstrate how what they are learning in school is an integral part of their everyday lives. Oftentimes, children question the value of what they are learning in school. Many of them rationalize that most of what they are taught in school is irrelevant and that once school is over they will have no need to revisit or use the knowledge they acquired in their classes. Without the help and support of caring parents, grandparents, and other key adult members of the community, some children may become disengaged, bored, and less than enthusiastic about learning.
Therefore, it is critical that adults model for children the various skills and techniques employed by most of us to navigate our way through our daily routines that are a direct result of what is taught in school. For instance, invite your child to assist in preparing a delicious, nutritious meal by having the child follow a family recipe in which certain ingredients require the use of a measuring cup. While assisting the child with the task ask the child about fractions and where they might have learned about fractions. This will allow the child to make a connection with school and a daily ritual in which fractions are relevant to the task at hand.
Perhaps cooking a meal on some days may not be feasible, so, an occasional trip to a fast food restaurant can also provide a chance to reinforce some basic math skills. Allow your child to select from your wallet or your hand the appropriate amount of coins that add up to the amount of an order of French fries. You might challenge them to select four coins that will equal $1.00. The child will see that multiplication is a meaningful and powerful skill and associate a challenging task taught in school with a fast food treat.
As children progress from one grade level to the next, provide them with opportunities to see how the skills and lessons taught in the previous grade helps them to learn more challenging, new material in the next grade. One such opportunity might involve the use of percentages when the family decides to eat at a restaurant and the check does not specify the gratuity expected for the waiter. Challenge your child to figure the dollar amount that should be given to the waiter based upon 15% of the total amount of the check.
In each of the aforementioned scenarios, the child is the one who is experiencing, by example, that learning in school has real-world relevancy. So, educate them well by providing them with opportunities to see for themselves why school is important.