Dr Judy van Heerden – Parents & Teaching Their Children

Why should parents be involved in their kids’ learning when they are being taught at school?

Some parents might feel that their children’s education is the duty and responsibility of the school and teachers because they are paid to do that. Although the school plays an important part in children’s education, parents should keep in mind that their child is always part of a big number of children in a school. In a class situation there is limited time and opportunities for an individual child to get one-on-one time and special attention every day from the teacher. It is thus not realistic or adequate to assume that teaching and learning are the sole responsibility of the school. Parents’ involvement in their child’s development can make a big difference.

Parents want what is best for their child – to learn, to thrive, to be happy and to be able to excel in life. Therefore, it is crucial to understand that when parents, as the child’s first teachers, spend time with their children, read to them often and engage in playful learning frequently, they are given a remarkable gift with numerous advantages for the children and parents. Young children want to be where their parents are. They crave for special time and connection with the parents. Playtime, even fifteen to thirty minutes daily of devoted attention, is the perfect opportunity to introduce new vocabulary, phrases and concepts to a child. Learning happens more naturally and quickly when children play and experience some fun.

What are the benefits of engaging in play with your child?

Play improves the well-being of children intellectually, physically, socially and emotionally. It is through play that children learn about themselves and the world. Furthermore, they learn skills they will need for school, work and relationships such as confidence.

How can playing educational games encourage a child’s language and literacy development?

Games offer a fun-filled, relaxed environment where children can discover and practise using new words and concepts and where they are free to express themselves. Games offer a non-threatening, effective way to develop and use vocabulary and enhance communication skills. Through shared, joyful activities and a positive association, a valuable, special life-long bond can be created between children and parents. The child’s self-esteem will benefit greatly as well. Simultaneously this playful engagement is also a great stress reducer for overworked parents.

While playing, children can learn the names of things (nouns), what objects do or action words (verbs) and how to describe what they observe. They learn to explore shapes, numbers, letters and objects with various senses. They experience what they look and sound like, how they feel, the size and texture and where to put them. Parents play a very important role in giving their child the words they need, the encouragement and praise when they try and succeed.

Play allows children to practise what they know, but also what they don’t. Through play children get to experiment through trial and error, find solutions to problems, work out the best strategies, and build new confidence and skills. In our busy lives, it can be easy to forget the value of play and of positive shared experiences. This investment in your child’s development will reap many short- and long-term benefits.

Warm regards.

Judy van Heerden

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