Make Learning Fun for the Whole Family

Make Learning Fun for the Whole Family

We get it. Helping kids with schoolwork is tough. And 2020 was especially tough when schools closed and parents needed to assist children with their schoolwork. I don’t know about you, but even regular primary school homework is a bit over my head sometimes! Every handy hint helps, and that’s what brought you to this post. We want our children to embrace learning and enjoy it. And we know you do too.

April 2020 was Week 2 of lockdown in The Netherlands. We lived in a brand new, empty house belonging to friends of our sister-in-law. The children hadn’t been at school in South Australia for 5 weeks. We had the intention of leaving as soon as this Covid pandemic was over. Not wanting the children to be too far behind with school when we got home; so, we started “homeschooling”. We knew it would just be for a couple of months. (NOTE: when this article was being published, we had been in The Netherlands for 12 months… and counting).

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Shannon and her family
Shannon & her family

My background is in Early Childhood Education, so I understand the Australian Curriculum. We had no formal plan other than what the learning outcomes should be for each of the children by the end of 2020. (At this point, I need to praise every teacher around the world for what they do)!

We were already in a stressful situation. Even though the children were coping well, they definitely weren’t themselves. So hubby and I knew we needed to make learning fun for all. The first task was investing in Monopoly – the Dutch version! Chance and Community Chest cards – Dutch; board locations – Dutch!

Now, the children (and I) were improving our Dutch language skills. The children were developing skills in math and reading. Also, communication, negotiation, and, to Rog’s delight – property investment! Shhhh…don’t tell the kids they were learning! This type of learning worked for them. WIN! It was also a win for spending time together as a family and distracting the children from the pandemic. We knew these types of activities were something we could use again. Perfect for travelling and or when on extended leave from school. We are hoping our ideas will help you see that learning can still happen while on the road, even without a formal plan.

Here are some of the other fun ways we followed the curriculum

  1. Old school board games

There are so many games available that promote math skills. During our lockdown, Yahtzee and Bingo were just the two we used. Yahtzee requires quick counting and adding up the points at the end. Bingo – well we had to do it in Dutch so I guess you can say we developed language skills more than math. We need to add that we didn’t buy the full games.

What did we do and how can you do this at home?

Buy a set of dice or borrow some from other board games you own. For the score sheets, you can use Google and print. Same with the Bingo sheets (we found a 10 x 100 sheets pack of Bingo sheets at the local cheap store for a couple of euros). For Bingo, I used a random number generator app. Here at happy life Safari, we have developed sheets ready for you to download and print.

  1. Categories

Categories are a game where you have a list of different topics or subjects. The aim is to find an answer for each one – that starts with the same letter! This game became a favourite with the kids. We used a random letter generator app to choose a letter. The children would have a 2-minute time limit (yep, use your phone again) to answer each subject. For example…the letter is ‘B’ – ANIMAL bear FOOD beans CHARACTER Bugs Bunny. And double points for using two ‘B’s!!!! I would check the children’s spelling after each round. For any incorrect words, they would practice writing again. Spelling and reading improved over time, especially when answers would become harder as the topics became trickier. Happy Life Safari has prepared the game ready for you to download.

  1. Research projects

Ok, I know this may not seem like you can make learning fun here. Trust me, you can when it is something your children want to learn about. I started by getting the children to come up with a list of 10 things they find interesting or want to learn about. Subjects such as ducks, Kobe Bryant, rainbows, and Formula 1 were only a few in a vast variety. The children would pick a subject from their list. The project needed to include:

-a labelled picture to explain their subject (e.g. the body parts of a duck)

-100-300 words on the subject (depending on which child).

-a list of websites they used for their information (at least 3)

They learned about referencing and plagiarism. But most of all, they learned about something they wanted to know more about. Plus spelling, reading, sentence structure, and punctuation.

Keen to give this a go? Download our Research Project Checklist for kids on our blog.

Shannon & her family
  1. Embrace the tech

I am going to admit I am one of those mums who stress about the amount of time my children spend on their tablets. Even though I often can’t get my two children to sit still or struggle to get them indoors some nights, it still worries me.

So it was I that needed to embrace the tech and teach myself that it was for good and not evil. We found some great websites for learning (check out my post about what living out of a backpack taught us about “stuff.” But we also knew that sometimes the children wanted to zone out as everybody does. Especially during a lockdown when every day feels the same. So we made an hour a day of “documentary hour.” We subscribe to Netflix and Disney + so we added documentaries of interest to each of the kids’ profiles. The children would then need to talk about what they learned over a meal. Great for learning and family time. Some documentaries we recommend are:

DISNEY+

● Marvel Hero Project

● Science Fair

● The World According to Jeff Goldblum

NETFLIX

● Down to Earth with Zac Efron

● Brain Child

● The Who Was Show

NOTE: These are recommendations only. Please review if these are suitable for your child based on their interests and values. These shows were available to view for free on these channels at the time of publishing.

  1. Cook up a storm

What is the best way to teach science? Cooking, of course! Mixing items and seeing them change into something different. Trying something new and experimenting with chemical properties. And you add in math skills with measurement and fractions. Plus, you can teach your children basic life skills.

Here are Happy Life Safari’s tried and tested favourites. Click on the links below for child-friendly instructions.

● Ham and cheese pancakes

● Dippy eggs

● Breakfast smoothie

● Scrambled Eggs

Final Thoughts

We know that, sometimes, formal homeschooling may be needed. Our aim with these handy tips is you can get some extra learning in while having fun as a family. And maybe make it less scary for you to take that jump into longer travel adventures too.

About the Author

Shannon van de Laar is an Australian blogger and freelance writer. The self-confessed foodie and market enthusiast love nothing more than travelling the world with her husband and two kids. You can find Shannon at:

Happy Life Safari

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