Often times, and maybe in the future for parents of kindergarteners like myself, teachers will write “Explain your thinking”, or “Explain your work” on homework that comes home.
How can we encourage our children to do this?
And once again, it comes down to us. It comes down to leading by example. All of which could be said in a simpler and approachable way, buy saying, “just try a little.” Like one or two minutes a day. At it’s simplest is ask. Ask why your child chose to do a math problem that way, or why they chose to put away certain toys versus another. Then ask again. Ask what other ways could it have been done differently. For us, we have flash cards with groupings of objects. This is better than flash cards with numbers by the way, that’s just rote memorization. Groupings are the way a child’s mind understands counting. And I need to be asking, how many are in that group. And if they get the answer by counting straight 1 to 5, I’ll ask, what other ways could you group this. And he’ll see a group of 2 and 3. And that, is still 5. That’s what your teacher is asking for, now go have a glass of wine in celebration.
The second thing we can do to help our kids learn is to tie learning to their worlds.
Show your child how what he learns is useful outside of school. If they are studying clouds, ask them to identify types that are in the sky, then predict whether they will need a raincoat or not. Or challenge them to spot vocabulary words on window signs or package labels, and talk about how they’re used in different ways.
A quote to end today from Teddy Roosevelt: It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.