5 Ways to Redeem the School Year

January 5, 2021 Updated: January 5, 2021

So, 2020 was rough. This school year, so far, hasn’t been stellar for many.

With a fresh, new year, however, let’s take on a fresh, new outlook. There are a number of ways parents can redeem the school year before it’s done. It just takes a basic shift in mindset and a little bit of effort.

First the mindset shift. Are you ready? Here it is: Instead of seeing school as the primary place where your child is educated, see school as a supplement to the education that happens at home. Whether you have realized it or not, it has always been that way. If you embrace it and make home a more educational place, you set you and your children up for an epic year.

Just as the Good Witch says to Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz,” “You don’t need to be helped any longer. You’ve always had the power.”

Next up: the effort. Here are five simple ways to make home a place of learning and the school year one of progress and success.

Decorate With Learning in Mind

Yes, decorate.

Your home environment plays a larger role in your child’s education than you may be aware. The objects you fill your home with, the media messages you invite in, the spaces, the light, the smells, and the coziness all contribute to the environment in which your children do much of their playing, exploring, and learning.

If your home is very cluttered, it’s likely difficult to find the freedom to explore. Likewise, if temptations of passive entertainment such as video games, television, YouTube, and so on, are always beckoning to your children, time they may have been creating or learning is being usurped.

On the contrary, if you’ve got maps on the wall, clear tabletops to create things on, books galore to explore, craft supplies in abundance, and toys that call for imagination and ingenuity, your home environment is set up as an invitation to play and explore and learn.

When you consider changes to your space, think from the perspective of designing your child’s learning environment and see what new ideas come to mind.

Get Excited About Books

Fill your home with copious books and read them.

Allow for quiet reading time in your home and encourage reading independently and together. Talk about books. Take care of your books. Appreciate your books.

Strong readers become strong learners. Until your children are very strong readers, read aloud to them as much as you possibly can. Ignore “reading levels” and don’t compare their abilities to their peers. Your job is to impart a love of reading and show them what a joy a good book is. Literacy will naturally follow.

Dive Into Curiosity

Whether it is your intention or not, those little sponges of yours are learning all the time. Involve your kids in whatever you are doing, whether it be as mundane as laundry or as exciting as visiting a space museum. See the learning opportunity in your family’s activities and capitalize on them as much as you can.

Encourage endless questions even if it makes things take longer. Encourage self-sufficiency by giving kids the freedom to make their own lunch, fix a broken faucet, change a lightbulb, or map the way to the park.

Learning happens 24/7, not just within the confines of a school day.

Encourage Making and Doing

Before your kids come home from school one day, set out paints, paintbrushes, and paper and see what happens to their afternoon. Encourage your kids to use their hands and make things.

Any new skill they are curious about, follow their interest. Lessons, video tutorials, and good old-fashioned trial and error are all great ways to learn to make and do.

Let Them Be Free

The truth is your children are probably more likely to realize their potential within a robust and free learning environment at home than within the confines of a typical school system.

Shift your thinking to view school as a supplement to their true education that happens at home. Give them as much freedom and support as possible to explore, and watch them soar.

Follow Barbara on Twitter: @barbaradanza