Ring in the New Year with These Resolutions

The new year is a great time to make positive changes in all areas of life, and education is no exception. Why not make a resolution to be more involved in your child’s education this year?

Here are a few ideas to consider in the coming weeks:

  • Make Education a Priority.  Your child’s education is one of the most important gifts you will give during the 18 or 20 years you have responsibility.  Does your schedule reflect that?  Does your level of involvement reflect commitment?  It doesn’t matter if you homeschool, send your child to public school or pay tuition into a private or parochial school.  You still have to make education a priority in your life.  Take a look at your schedule and at your family’s schedule right now.  How much time and energy is related to education?  If you’ve made learning a priority, you’re involved in school functions, homeschooling time and homework time.  There are also family outings and activities that combine learning with fun.  An honest look at your day planner will tell you how much of a priority education truly is in your household.
  • Use Your Local Library:  Nearly all of us have access to this outstanding resource, yet many are experiencing a serious loss of “customers” and lack of community support.  In addition to providing your children with fun and interesting books to read, your local library also might offer DVDs, computer software, ebooks, magazines and reference materials.  It will have computer access to share.  Most libraries run a plethora of programs designed for patrons of all ages and stages, from story hours for the youngest children to concerts and lectures for adults.  Broaden your whole family’s horizons by taking advantage of all that your library has to offer!
  • Learn for Cheap In Your Community:  In addition to the great resources at your local library, did you know that your community holds a wealth of learning opportunities?  Check your local community college for child-friendly enrichment programs.  Our local community college has a free children’s museum, too.  Many towns have a historical society that maintains displays and exhibits about local lore.  Your county, state and national parks, wildlife refuges, botanical gardens and private conservation parks often have nature displays and even naturalists on staff who share their knowledge and information.  Visit your local zoo to find out what programs they offer for children in your kids’ age group.
  • Attend Local Plays and Concerts:  Nearly every community has an amateur theater group that puts on plays several times each year, and many offer at least one children’s production annually.  Whether you attend with your kids or even find a way to audition and participate, it will be an experience they will never forget.  Watch for concerts in your area, too, especially during the summer months.  Many communities have a version of music on the green, where they invite local musicians to perform in a small park or at a gazebo in town.
  • Visit the Bookstore:  Bookstores are another great place to watch for events, concerts and talks.  Larger bookstores may even arrange for author visits.  Imagine how excited your child would be for a chance to meet and greet his or her favorite author!  See if you can pick up a calendar of events next time you visit the bookstore.
  • Use the Resources at Your House:  You can scrounge all sorts of learning activities from your recycling bin!  Newspapers are great sources of text for various reading activities, phonics scavenger hunts, and comprehension exercises.  You can get math into the act by working with weather statistics, sports scores and sale prices.  The phone book will help you with alphabetizing skills, computation with large numbers (phone numbers are actually millions numbers!), and reading comprehension skills.  The calendar can be a source for writing prompts (write about the pictures), math problems (cut and paste the numbers into age-appropriate math), and practical learning such as figuring out how many days are in three and a half months.

See?  It’s not so tough once you start looking to find ways to expand and extend learning!  Keep your eyes peeled, and ideas will start to jump out of nowhere.  You’ll be helping your child in more ways than one when you guide him or her into seeing connections between things they learn in formal settings and the things they do in everyday life. 

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Remember, if you have any education topics or questions you’d like to see addressed in this blog, just drop me a note in the comments section below!  Looking forward to hearing from you!