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


  • 5 tips to help you land a new job

    A solid interview can help you close the deal

    With so many job openings these days, you may think you’ll have an easy time sliding into a new role. Not so fast. Because of the huge number of options available and plenty of workers contemplating changes, you’re likely to encounter some competition to land the job you want. read more »
  • Healthy habits for your home

    5 tips to help you out

    If you’re like most Americans, health is an important aspect of your resolutions when each new year rolls around. While factors like diet and exercise are keys to healthy living, so are the ways you care for your home and belongings. read more »
  • 5 heart health tips for the holidays

    Keep your family safe during this festive season

    Food, drinks, gifts and time with family make the holidays a merry occasion for people across the country. However, all that celebrating can sometimes become a distraction from maintaining heart health. read more »
  • 10 health resolutions doctors encourage you to make today

    These actions you can take are some of the most important

    The New Year represents a fresh start and is the perfect time to invest in your health. However, you may be unsure what resolutions will have the biggest impact. Doctors say that the easy, tangible actions you take are some of the most important. read more »
  • 5 tips to help families manage holiday stress

    The holiday season can make everyone feel a little overwhelmed

    ’Tis the season for holiday parties, travel, hosting and more. While it is a joyous time of year, the never-ending to-do lists and school being out of session can make everyone feel a little overwhelmed, children included. read more »
  • A foil packet meal for sweet fall simplicity

    Delicious and easy dinner with sweet potatoes

    Fall provides almost endless opportunities to gather friends and family around great food. From tailgates and family events to those precious last outdoor meals before winter sets in, the scenery of autumn is a perfect backdrop for sharing meals together. read more »
  • 5 steps for better meal prep

    Eat healthier and save time

    Eating healthier and saving time around the house are common goals for many families, and there’s one solution that can help attain both: meal-prepping. By planning and preparing meals in advance of each week, you can practice better portion control while creating free time for normally hectic mornings, afternoons and evenings. read more »
  • How to keep pets happy and healthy this holiday season

    7 tips to help you spot potential hazards for your furbaby

    The holiday season means fun and festivities for all, but getting wrapped up in all the excitement and celebrations can lead to forgetting about safety and precautions, especially for pets. read more »
  • Thanksgiving traditions and memory-making meals

    2 mouth-watering recipes everyone will love

    Starting with parades and ending with family meals, Thanksgiving provides all-day opportunities for celebrating life’s special moments with those nearest and dearest to your heart. read more »
  • How to protect your home and valuables this holiday travel season

    Protect your assets when you hit the road

    Whether you’re visiting your in-laws or taking a tropical vacation over the holidays, you’ll likely be leaving your house and the majority of your belongings unattended while you’re gone. Recent research suggests that if you’re like many Americans, you may not be doing enough to protect your assets when you hit the road. read more »