While filling your house up with stuff is generally not something I advocate, there are some things worth keeping—things that can improve the educational quality of your home environment for your children. Simply by making these things available to your kids, you may see a decrease in screen time, an increase in reading and creativity, and a more frequent display of that internal spark that lights them up inside.
With summer break around the corner, now’s a great time to stock up on these fundamental learning tools.
From the tiniest of babies to the biggest kids, books—the physical kind with paper and no backlight—are absolutely essential.
Early on, little eyes will light up at bright pictures and the soft reading by their Mom, Dad, or other loved one. As time goes by, a habit of reading to your child will associate positive feelings with the act of reading, enhance your child’s understanding of language, vocabulary, tone of voice, and more, and solidify the habit of reading in their lives.
Even if you don’t read to your child very often (although, I implore you to do so) allowing your child access to a plethora of books will prove beneficial to them.
Hang large maps in your home and allow them to be a constant reference whenever applicable—and you might be surprised at how often they are applicable.
From vacation planning to finding the home of famous authors or sports stars, from identifying where certain animals live to plotting different land forms and waterways that come up, having a map within reach is invaluable to enriching your child’s understanding of the world we live in.
Children are naturally creative and the urge to craft can come at any time. Keeping arts and crafts supplies always within reach removes the barriers for them so they can put their inspiration right to work.
While making masterpieces, younger children will improve their fine motor skills and older children will master their techniques.
When it comes to math, visual models can, for some children, make the difference between total frustration and actually enjoying math. The idea of numbers and symbols representing specific mathematical ideas can be challenging for many.
Having physical objects that kids can see, touch, and move around brings these abstract concepts to life. There are many kits available made specifically to represent mathematical ideas. Even if your child is not struggling, manipulative tend to make math feel like play and the concepts begin to really sink in.
Music and Musical Instruments
Studies about the benefits of good music on the brain have been well reported on. Make music a part of your home. Don’t simply play what’s popular today, but explore different genres from different time periods and different parts of the world.
It’s quite possible for the rest of their lives they’ll connect the music you listen to with fond family memories.
Additionally, provide access to musical instruments. Toy instruments are fine for the very young. As they get older, allow your children to touch and play different instruments. At some point, they may engage in deep study of one or two in particular, but simple exposure to the idea of making music enhances their understanding of music and allows them to see their potential with it.
Like music, art is an important part of the human experience. Observing art from different parts of the world and different time periods can teach us quite a bit about those places and times.
Books about art and artists, postcard replicas of famous masterpieces, documentaries about art, and frequent trips to the museum are all simple things that can culminate in an enjoyable study of a wonderful subject.
Journals and Notebooks
Providing a journal or notebook and encouraging your child to write whatever they please can be both soothing and liberating for them. Young children may simply doodle and older children may find it a helpful outlet for their thoughts and feelings.
Along the way, they are writing and drawing (or however they see fit to fill their books) and regularly engaging in the act of creating and organizing their thoughts.