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Encouraging Your Child to Learn:

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It’s 2019, and teachers have reinvented learning in innovative ways. Here are two types of tips from teachers that can help you support your child’s varied interests, and trigger exciting conversations.

A. Show Him How to Apply What He Learns to Real Life:

There are many programmes in schools that encourage students to apply their learning to the real world, says, Mr Desmond Tan, Head of Department for Mathematics from Ping Yi Secondary School. Growing plants, for example, can even help him learn Maths. Here are some ways in which you can help your child see the connections between what he learns in school and life.

1. Gamify it.
Maths is hiding in various aspects of life. Start a family game where all of you try to spot the Maths in the room. For example, “How long will it take to fill this bottle with water?” or “How many different shapes can you identify in the food in your fridge?” “Which is heavier – the potato or the cauliflower?” “Which plant is growing faster – the bougainvillea or the hibiscus?” The questions are endless. Help your child see how Maths applies to everyday situations, and he or she will never think Maths is boring.,

2. Keep it real.
Ask your child to use his/her Maths skills on your bills (electricity or water or grocery bills). Can he/she calculate and suggest efficient ways to save? Or, give them a budget and ask them to plan a trip. Let them calculate how far that money can go. Those are practical lessons to learn.

3. Keep it fun.
There’s no need to be intimidated by Maths. The more you and your kids talk about Maths, the less scary it will seem. Share fun Math games or tidbits with them. For instance, did you know that you can find the Fibonacci sequence throughout nature – in pinecones, seashells and trees? Did you know that bees make hexagons in their hives?

B. Planning Your Child’s Recess Playtime:

Recess can be a good time for your child to explore. As long as the environment is safe, if they use their creativity to create something new with a little noise and lots of fun, that’s great, says Mdm Siti Aishah, Subject Head of Aesthetics from Punggol Primary School. Here is a list of things you can do to help make his/her recess more fun and educational.

1. Just let them talk.
Ask your child about playtime. Listening to them will give you insights – who their friends are, what games they play, what they find interesting or annoying, how they handle difficulties.

2. Ask open-ended questions.
When asking about their playtime, keep your questions open-ended. Because your child won’t be able to answer them with just a ‘yes’ or ‘no’, it encourages him to explain and elaborate. Listening to your questions will also teach your child how to ask questions and have a conversation.

3. Set up a free play area. Give your child some space at home for “free play”. They can play dress-up, create stories or plan games to bring to the next school recess play session. Remember: Do not tell them how to play or how their stories should end.

4. Provide play materials.
Take note that this does not necessarily mean toys. An old cardboard box, small rubber balls, colourful strings, plastic cups and bowls, sticky tape and a pair of scissors may sound like odd items to give to your child to play with, but just take a step back and watch what they will do with them. You will be surprised.

5. Create a New Game.
Ask your child how a game is played. For example, ask your child why a soccer game requires two goalposts. Can we have more goalposts? How do we create a new game with a change in equipment and rules? There’s no right or wrong in any decisions made. Allow them to experiment and learn on their own.

6. Throw them a challenge.
If your child is a bit older, ask them how they would design playtime in school and why. This will make your child think about what works, what doesn’t. He or she will have to argue and present their case – all valuable skills.

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