The Blog

As a newspaper columnist, Nancy Devlin, Ph.D. has written over 700 articles on subjects related to education and parenting. Welcome to her Classroom!

Learning At Home

There  are many things parents can do at home that not  only

will  make their children more successful at school but will also

make  learning fun.   The best activities are those which involve

children  actively  rather than passively with pencil  and  paper


For the very young child, the parent and child can name the

objects in the room together.   The parent can then ask the child

to  bring  the  objects to him or her.   The parent  can  make  a

scrapbook of common objects for the child to name.  The child can

rhyme  nonsense words. For example, what sounds like “lunny”?   A

parent can help a child learn two step directions, then  increase

them  to three and four steps.  A parent can say  nursery  rhymes

and  put them on a tape so that the child can play them over  and

over.  Playing rhyming games with the child helps.  For  example,

What two words sound alike: tan, ten, bag, man.  Activities  such

as these prepare the child to learn to read.

It  also  helps  if parents read aloud  to  their  children.

Current  research shows that children who were read to  only  ten

minutes  four  times  a  week reached higher  levels  of  reading

achievement  than  children  who were not read  to  at  all.   If

parents  can  spare  more time,  the  children  do  even  better.

Children  should  be encouraged to talk about the story  and  ask


When  parents read aloud to their child they should ask  the

child warm-up questions before beginning the book.  It also helps

to  ask a variety of questions during the reading:   What do  you

think  will happen next?   How do you think the little boy feels?

Could  the  little boy in the story have done something  else  to

solve  his  problem?  How do you know the story  takes  place  in

winter?  Do you remember what the little boy was wearing?   Which

person  in the story did you like best?  Parents could  also  add

their own ideas about the story and what they liked about it.  Do

not put pressure on the child to read but make the time  together


In  the  area  of  math  development  there  are  many   fun

activities  parents  can do with their children.  The  child  can

help  set the table, counting the knives and forks  and  matching

them to each person’s place at the table.  Making a cake helps  a

child  learn  math concepts.  Playing a game like Bingo  helps  a

child recognize the numbers.  Playing card games helps the  child

understand numbers and sequencing.

Games are wonderful ways for the child to learn and for  the

family  to  have fun.  Simple Simon is an old  favorite.   Jigsaw

puzzles of all levels of difficulty are very helpful.   Stringing

different size buttons is fun as is lacing pictures with  colored

yarn.   Playing  with  marbles and jump roping  are  helpful  for

coordination.    The   game  of  Pick-Up-Sticks   helps   develop

eye-hand  coordination.   Bean bags and targets as well  as  ring

toss games help with coordination too.

There  are  many games to play while traveling in  the  car.

One  is  called Alphabet Hunt.  This involves  finding  words  on

signs  that begin with letters of the alphabet in  order.   Young

children can have a copy of the alphabet in front of them to help

them remember which letter comes next.  It is always fun to  make

up a story.  One person begins the story and the next person adds

to  the  plot.  Singing is also a pleasant activity  which  helps

children learn.

I encourage parents to help their children become  life-long

learners by providing them with pleasant learning experiences and

activities which prepare them to take the next step and meet with


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