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Encouraging Children's Learning: 7 Important Tips for Parents

Updated: Nov 29, 2022

By Dr. Joanne Foster


There are many classroom-based approaches and ideas that seasoned educators share with one another throughout the school year—strategies that help them provide the best learning environment for children. Realistically, parents can apply these same strategies at home any time of year, and with young children as well as older ones!


The following suggestions for supporting children’s learning have been culled from teachers, from my own decades of experience (as a parent, educator, consultant, and author), and from current evidence-based research, tried and true, and spans many years.


1. Ensure that each child feels important. How? Treat children warmly. Listen, observe, and answer their questions. Encourage them to talk and share their opinions. Pay attention to and respect their feelings. Give them opportunities to be quiet and reflective if that’s what they want or need.


2. Go outdoors together. Why? Being outside can be invigorating, and downtime is better whenever it involves fresh air and new perspectives or discoveries. Incorporate play, multisensory activities, and unstructured time into daily experiences.


3. Look after yourself. How? Know your strengths, limitations, and stressors. Recognize when you should refuel your own tank before going forward. Get the help you require (for example, familial, professional, or spiritual), or tap into strategies that you know can strengthen and sustain your well-being (such as exercise, mindfulness, deep breathing, reading, or connectivity with trusted others).


4. Be consistent. How? Establish predictable routines. Familiarity can be comforting. Chat about—and co-create with your kids—manageable schedules and fair expectations. Review these periodically or as necessary.


5. Take it one step at a time. Why? Adults who model reasonable pacing convey that it’s not necessary or even prudent to rush things. Show patience, calm, resilience, flexibility, and other coping skills that will teach kids how to pace themselves—and overcome obstacles and confront adversity, too. These are valuable lessons!


6. Have fun! How? Use your imagination, and help children stoke theirs. Welcome creative expression, curiosity, spontaneity, open-ended activities, and wacky ideas. Show positivity and optimism, and above all, be encouraging of one another.


Finally… #7 Changes, unpredictability, pressure—or just trying to keep up with daily tasks—can pose challenges at any time of year. Hence this final important point: Be resourceful! When? Now! How? Visit the Resources Page of my website at https://joannefoster.ca/resources/ for helpful articles on a variety of topics, including kindness, reading, gratitude, uncertainty, tenacity, confidence, boredom, sharing, praise, intelligence-building, procrastination, motivation, mentorships, and more. Any time of year is a wonderful time for family members to acquire resources, to learn, and to support each other!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Joanne Foster is a multiple award-winning author who has written seven books, the most recent being Being Smart about Gifted Learning: Empowering Parents and Kids Through Challenge and Change (co-authored with Dona Matthews). For more information on her publications, presentations, and ways to support children’s well-being, go to https://joannefoster.ca.

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