Hot Topics     Home and Family     Healthy Kids     Early Education     K-12     Enrichment Guide    

Make your home an ideal learning environment



Support and encourage your child’s interests

Support and encourage your child’s interests


You are your child’s first teacher, and your home is your child’s first school. You spend a good bit of time every day setting the tone for behaviors, encouraging first steps, and pouncing on those teachable moments to mold your children into the happy and successful people you want them to be.

But are you missing some opportunities to support your child’s learning? Kids will thrive in a home that makes learning a priority and creates the proper balance between direct teaching and “give it a go on your own” kinds of involvement. Every child needs a different blend of the two—some children need direct instruction before they’re willing to try something new, and others are rarin’ to go without a lot of introduction.

Here are some guidelines for making your home a comfortable place to work, play and learn—a place where efforts are valued over a finished product and where it’s just fine to try and fail along the road to success.

Model a Lifestyle of Learning

My father was an avid fisherman and fishing was a family sport. We often hit the water before the sun was up and fished (and ate) all day long. I learned early on that fishing equipment was next to sacred and that I could impress my Dad with my fishing skills.

It’s like that with any sort of learning. If your kids know you think reading, or playing music, or playing chess at a high level is cool, they’ll think so too. It isn’t the subject matter that’s important, it’s the fact that children will believe learning new things is important, if you show that you believe it is.

So read some books, do some home improvement projects, learn to grow flowers, or learn a new language. Your kids will notice both the effort and the expertise, but more importantly, they’ll know that you value learning.

Provide Materials

Children need to do hands-on exploration as they learn. They enjoy molding clay and they love cutting and pasting. When out of doors, they enjoy gathering materials and building forts.

Parents don’t need to join in the creativity, but they can help the process by providing materials. Make it a habit to have a good supply of paper, pencils, markers, glue, and all the other stuff of artistic endeavors. Allow kids to use simple tools (with appropriate safety precautions) and marvel at their creations.

You might keep a supply of old clothing and props for the dramatic sessions that will take place after reading a particularly good story. Encourage kids to act out their favorite fairy tales or encourage them to write a book about their latest interest. Use their love for heroes to encourage creative extensions such as giving a play, writing a poem or singing a new song.

Expect a bit of a mess along the way. Creative processes are worth a few spills and piles of rubble.

READ MORE: Video series by a mom: Homeschooling ideas

Follow Their Lead

Right now, my youngest grandson is enamored with dinosaurs and volcanoes. He talks about them, knows dinosaur names, understands that volcanoes erupt and learned that one of the theories about dino demise was a large volcanic eruption back in the day. So, when he came for a visit, I made sure to have dino and volcano books ready to read and enjoy.

He spent a lot of time creating caves out of playdough for plastic dinosaur figures and re-enacting dinosaur adventures. We read the volcano books and learned to identify the cutaway parts of a volcano.

What are your children excited about right now? Do they love to plant seeds and watch them grow? Do they want to learn how to speak Spanish or how to cook a pizza? It pays to notice the things your kids are interested in and support their learning in those specific areas.

Find Programs, Classes and Other Local Learning Challenges

When you look for classes in dance, music or sports remember that at this time there are many virtual opportunities as well as face-to-face. Don’t overlook the free activities available through school or church projects, local youth programs and your local library. Let them try a variety of activities and then if they take off in drama or music, the cost of classes is well worth the price.

Be Their Cheerleader

Whatever your child enjoys doing, it is your privilege to be their cheerleader. If they love art, then make their next birthday gift an array of art materials. If they love to write, provide the paper and pencils or a keyboard. If they love to play chess, learn a few moves and play along. It’s easy to root on the sidelines of a soccer game but might require a bit of inspiration to cheer on a quieter child who enjoys reading biographies or studying insects. Find a way. It matters.

Remember, you’ll always be your child’s number one teacher. Make the most of that role and create an environment in which learning is as natural as breathing.

Jan Pierce, M.Ed is a retired teacher and reading specialist who writes about education, parenting and family life. Find Jan at www.janpierce.net.



Other articles by HVP News Reporters


  • Hudson Valley Section of the NYS Birding Trail is Live!

    World-class birding opportunities across the state

    Birding is a fun activity that everyone can enjoy! From Montauk to Buffalo, New York is home to a vast array of amazing habitat that supports over 450 different bird species. Birding, or birdwatching, is one of the fastest growing outdoor recreational activities that can be enjoyed by all ages and experiences, plus it's a great way to get outdoors. read more »
  • Historic Hudson Valley Landmarks Reopen to Visitors

    Philipsburg Manor, Washington Irving’s Sunnyside, Union Church, and Kykuit open in May

    Historic Hudson Valley will welcome the public to Philipsburg Manor, Washington Irving’s Sunnyside, and Union Church beginning Friday, May 6; and Kykuit, the Rockefeller estate, beginning on Saturday, May 21. Visitors will be able to tour all four of these National Historic Landmarks through November. read more »
  • The dangers of using your pet's name as a password

    Aura research finds families vulnerable online

    Aura, the leader in intelligent safety for consumers, today introduced a public safety awareness campaign encouraging families to bolster their online safety habits. Marking the start of National Pet Month and World Password Day on May 5, Aura has released new data that found more than one-third (39%) of American pet parents have used their pet's name as part of their password for an online account. read more »
  • Strengthening support for new mothers

    2 companies provide research-based solutions benefiting the parenting journey

    Medela, the most trusted breast pump brand*, has announced a partnership with Expectful, a holistic maternal health platform for fertility, pregnancy, and motherhood, to offer breastfeeding and pumping education and discounted access to wellness support to new moms. The two brands share a commitment to improving the motherhood experience through research-backed products that can be trusted to truly make a difference. read more »
  • Poor oral health can cause serious medical conditions

    New Delta Dental report finds many are unaware of this connection

    Delta Dental released the 2022 State of America's Oral Health and Wellness Report, a nationwide analysis of consumer opinions and behaviors relating to oral health. Findings from the Delta Dental-commissioned research of U.S. adults and parents of children ages 12 and younger illuminate what they thought about their oral health and what they did to properly care for it at home and with their dentist during 2021. read more »
  • Memorial Day crafts for kids

    Teach your kids about this special holiday while you make something special

    The national holiday was established to honor those who have died in American wars. Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day. It originated during the American Civil War, when citizens would place flowers on the graves of those who had been killed in battle. read more »
  • Parents experiencing frustration over the national baby formula shortage

    NYS Division of Consumer Protection Offers Guidance

    New Yorkers need to be aware of unscrupulous practices from individuals who are using the baby formula shortages to scam desperate parents. These scams are typically rooted in online sales, and private sellers who are marketing cans for double the price knowing that big retailers have empty shelves and little information about when they may receive the next shipment. read more »
  • Leave young wildlife in the wild

    Human interactions do more harm than good to wild animals

    New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos is reminding New Yorkers to appreciate wildlife from a distance and resist the urge to pick up newborn fawns and other young wildlife. read more »
  • Top toy picks for spring & summer '22

    New list from the Toy Association & Clamour

    As kids and families gear up for a fun-filled summer of play, the "Best of Spring & Summer 2022 Influencer Choice List," presented by The Toy Association and powered by Clamour, today unveiled the hottest toys and games as voted on by top-tier toy and family content creators. Consumers can shop the list for toy ideas that will keep kids engaged all summer long – from playthings perfect for backyard fun to creative toys and games for rainy days. read more »
  • Girls Code Club Summer Camp

    Newburgh Free Library Accepting Applications

    The Newburgh Girl’s Code Club is now accepting applications for the Summer 2022 Code Camp. Newburgh Girl’s Code Club or NGCC is an initiative funded by Rowley Family Foundation Fund for Women & Children to address the issue of gender inequality in the technology field by providing youth access, education, and exposure to engineering skills in a casual club environment at the Newburgh Free Library. read more »