Enriching your child's education isn't about adding more homework, it is about adding more depth and dimensions to the work they are already doing. Every student learns a bit differently, and with added academic enrichment to their education coming from home, their ability to contextualize and conceptualize their work can really benefit their learning potential in the long run.
Here is a list of the top ten ways to enrich your child's education
1. Constantly assess needs
Your child might be a whiz at math, but are they often struggling with their reading or writing homework? Paying attention to their overall performance will inform where your child might benefit the most from added enrichment. Whether the child a private tutor or just some extra help at home, paying attention to their work and their needs to succeed will benefit greatly.
2. Get involved in their education
We aren't saying that you should go to any extremes and begin sitting next to your child in class, but a quick email to a teacher can help a parent to see how their student is progressing. Additionally, conferencing with teachers might open up a dialogue about where the curriculum is heading. If you are aware of the big picture, that can help with planning enrichment activities down the road.
For example, if you know that the end goal is for students to understand angles of various shapes, you might want to add easy activities with your child to get them thinking about angles as a whole. Have them contemplate the angles of dinnerware or the angles of tree branches. Look for opportunities where angles present themselves in the real world. If your student is learning about parts of speech, you might want to quiz them from time to time on whether certain things they see or say are nouns, verbs, adjectives and so on.
3. Access Materials
Teacher materials aren't limited to just teachers. Not only are there teacher stores somewhere near you, but there are also materials to be found in bookstores, libraries and online. Flashcards, games, maps and various workbooks can be purchased or rented for added enrichment. If your student might benefit from some added exercises in physics terms, it might be helpful to find some materials to match that need.
4. Talk to your librarian
It may come as a shock to some, but librarians are actually there to help you. Yes. That is their job, and they are darn good at it. Befriending a local librarian can pay dividends throughout your child's education. Not only can they help to point you to supplemental materials and thoughtful enriching add-ons, but they are also smart people that can help you navigate just about any topic or need.
5. Get out of the house
Week after week, most students see the same environments almost every day. From school to home and back to school again, students often just need a change in environment. Whether you choose to take a walk in a forest preserve/park or head on out to a museum or other learning based destinations, let's face it, kids can really benefit from a slight change in environment. If you are really ambitious, try a weekend camping, where all of the digital distractions are kept at bay for a short while.
For vacations, consider how to make a vacation a bit more than a lazy beach week or a week on the slopes. See if there are any historical or entertaining attractions that you could take your child to. Taking vacations to big cities can open up a ton of room for exploration and learning. For more remote destinations, try to really identify with and embrace the local culture. Wherever you choose to go, make the most of the experience for your child.
6. Join In!
So, your kid is reading The Scarlet Letter and they are struggling with the concepts. Why not read along with them? Instead of ascribing to the "I don't know," "Ask your other parent," or "Look it up," approach, attempt to join in on their learning. Not only will this make for interesting dinner time chatter, but it also will help your student when they need the help. If you get a reading list at the beginning of the year, try spending time reading those books.
If your student has a big unit on the American Revolution coming up, try reading up on it or picking up a book like 1776 or and biography about George Washington. There are a ton of great history best-sellers out there that will help you to add to your student's learning.
7. Plan ahead
Planning can be key to a successful educational experience for your kid. Let's say your child is learning American History this year. See if you can plan a weekend trip to a place of historical significance that might contextualize the class for them. Is your child taking French or Spanish? Try out that new French bistro or Spanish tapas place one night for dinner. Or maybe stay at home and cook up a recipe together.
Look ahead for openings of museum exhibits that might connect with your student's education. There are a wide variety of places that offer such things, and that might come in handy on a rainy day.
8. Study up
There are a myriad of parent resources for lessons and activity ideas. Pretend you are the teacher and start perusing teacher websites for quick and fun ideas. From ABC Teach to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, there are plenty of places that post lessons. Many local museums, zoos, aquariums and libraries post ideas for learning, and they often offer specific events, camps and courses that the whole family can enjoy.
9. Hire a private tutor
Your student doesn't have to be failing a class in order for you to seek out a tutor. Often times tutors can be used for students that excel in their coursework. Tutors can not only help a student get organized and well-prepared for their lessons, but they can also offer supplemental enrichment activities for the student to participate in. If your student is struggling with a particular unit, a tutor is a great way to help your student get the most out of their schoolwork.
Education Enrichment isn't rocket science. Adding enrichment to your child's education is about looking for ways to contextualize what they learn with the world around them. It is about ensuring that they see their lessons from multiple angles and finding solutions in order to guarantee academic success. It is about training yourself as a parent to see learning opportunities everywhere and taking advantage of them. So, relax, it is easier than you think. Remember than learning isn't all about school days and homework, but about understanding the world around them in really magical and tangible ways.