Finding an Extraordinary Education in the Ordinary

by Louise Frazer

Circumstances have thrown you and your children together under the same roof and as everyone scrambles to cope, you may wonder how to keep working, maintain order, and good family relations while largely confined for an undetermined amount of time. If you are able to keep math, reading, and writing going, even if informally, that will help greatly in both the short and long run. But if it’s too much just now, rest assured education comes in many forms, not just through workbooks and tests.

Even everyday, routine activities and fun hobbies can fulfill the need to be busy and keep them learning. Experts tell us children learn through these activities.

Learning “ordinary” tasks can be extremely beneficial, teaching skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, and sequencing. Take for example, washing the laundry. There is a sequence of steps to follow: collect, read washing instruction tags, sort, add detergent etc., and a tangible result at the end. Sequencing is a transferable skill, necessary for writing and math, not to mention that laundry is a life skill.

Hobbies whether old favourites or new ones can teach children a great deal about their chosen subject. In fact, children learn best when they are invested in the subject they are learning about. Did you ever listen to an eight-year old rattle off facts about ants after keeping an ant farm? Or see a budding ballerina interpret The Nutcracker across the kitchen floor?

In fact, according to David Perkins, professor of education at Harvard, students retain best what is useful to them and proposes that “students can instead become ‘expert amateurs’”. He says that “expert amateurism works great…in most of what we do in our lives — raising children, filing taxes, appreciating art, understanding insurance rates, or dealing with our own health care.”

Let children follow their interests with whatever you have on hand and they might surprise you.

At this particularly trying time and on short notice, parents don’t necessarily have the time to formally devote to their children’s education. With minimal supervision, however, children can learn another important life skill: figuring things out.

And according to Judy Willis, neurologist and educator, “ students are more likely to remember and understand what they learn if they find it compelling or have a part in figuring it out for themselves”.

In this unusual period of history there are numerous adjustments and readjustments from all sides. We’re all learning through this process, and for some it will be a discovery of new skills, interests, and passions.

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