Enhancing and Maximising Learning at home
Updated: Jun 10, 2019
‘Homeschooling’ has become a ubiquitous buzzword and is all the rage these days. That said, it refers to nothing more than inducing learning outside of a formal schooling environment, where children are intrinsically motivated toward learning due to pull (fun activities) as opposed to push (forced) factors.
Pause and think about your own kids for a moment – do they do what is perceived as fun to them or what you tell them to do?
Education in Singapore
Education is big in Singapore, in line with its highly competitive culture. There are classes that you can sign your child up, even at a month old. When I was running Colourful Hearts, an early learning centre full time, the youngest “client” that I had was a baby at 4 months, whose mum believed she was lagging behind developmentally and insisted on hiring us to ensure she is ahead of her peers!
That said, education need not be expensive or complicated…
I am now a mum to two children and putting into practice all my years of education has been nothing short of amazing. Education need not be complicated, expensive and something for you to worry over. So here are my top 5 tips on helping you set up your home for learning (aka play!)
1) Create a playroom within your home
Have a dedicated space or room for your child to play in. This enables order in your home and also becomes a place of learning and play. This is how mine looks like:
I have everything that I need in this room – books for story time, games, toys, a keyboard for music and drama, etc. I also have magazine holders for each “subject” – Maths, English, Mandarin, music and so on. These holders contain material I am using for either the week or the month.
If you don’t have a room or space is a constraint, a simple corner space will do too so something like this will work beautifully:
I use some corners of my home too – I have a dedicated art corner, a reading corner and a sensory play corner.
The benefits of a dedicated playroom or play corner are plenty. It gives the child a space to call their own, it promotes responsibility and independence, it encourages the child to engage in self-play and it provides a place for exploration.
2) Organise your toys/materials into 5 learning domains
Now this helps to do three things – Ensure your child is always learning developmentally, be organised in your toys storage and it ensures you don’t overbuy toys because you will know exactly what you have for each domain.
So here are the 5 simple domains I started on 1.5years ago – Motor skills, language, cognitive, creative and sensory. I use the storage spaces in my home to organise items based on these domains. Have a look at my sensory section:
And this is my art trolley:
I used a trolley so that Arya (my daughter) can wheel it to the work table or the sensory section of our balcony to work. The trolley also helps to ensure I don’t overbuy art materials (my weakness!) as there is only so much I can stuff into it!
3) Have a simple learning plan
As I homeschool my children, my plans are done on a yearly level and then zoomed into a monthly plan. I have two children – Arya who is 4.6yrs and Arjan who is 11mths old. I just started a plan for Arjan about a month ago and it looks like this:
It is extremely simple and easy to follow. This can happen for any of your children too. If you need a list of activities, Pinterest and good old Google will do the job.
A plan gives you an idea on what to do and ensures the day is not wasted away. If you’re a stay at home mum, this will help to ensure you are on track for your children’s development which is a large part of your responsibility. And of course, when daddy takes over while we go on our self-care breaks, you can get him to do the items on the plan too – objective driven play it will be!
4) Set up learning stations
Every day when the children sleep, I set up learning stations around the house. This goes in tandem with the activities on the learning plan or sometimes, I just set up whatever I feel like at that moment.
Arya wakes with such excitement everyday as she is always so excited to see what has been set up while she sleeps (I feel like Santa!) This level of excitement coming from her makes my learning objectives such a breeze to accomplish because when there is fun, learning happens easily.
Also, I set up based on developmental domains so an example of a set up will be as follows:
· Playdough on her activity table (sensory)
· Threading cards on the kitchen floor (motor skills)
· Alphabet cookies matching game on the living room floor (language)
· Erase the numbers 1-10 on the balcony glass door (cognitive)
· Paper on easel with all the paint colours set up at the balcony (creative)
I set up the activities around the house to create more fun and also to ensure she doesn’t sit at a spot and be bored. Moving around also stimulates the brain so it’s an added bonus.
5) Relax and just play!
Last but not least, relax and just play! Children are natural learners and if you provide plenty of time for talking/communicating and an environment for learning, they will flourish naturally!
About the author:
Melissa Gunadesa has been teaching for 14 years now, and has taught children from all walks of life, from 1.5 years of age to 15 years old, from those with learning difficulties, to those that are gifted. With an education in special education, early childhood and mass communications, she is known in the industry for her unique teaching programs and displays a proven track record in helping children onto the path of excellence.
She sold off her business in October 2016 and currently do only home intervention programs on a limited basis as she devotes the rest of her time to homeschooling her children.
Melissa is the Partners Coordinator at the NMSG.