You may erroneously believe that structured activities outside the school or classroom environment are not of much importance. You couldn’t be more wrong. Research suggests that children pick up some of their most important skills from programmes and activities outside a school’s pedagogical environment. That is why children who do not participate in any extracurricular activities are generally slow and less vibrant.
The learning environment that you enroll your child in outside of his or her school’s activities must however contribute to the overall development of your child. It must be as disciplined and as functional as that found within the school. This is especially true of educative out-of-school programmes and activities. A well-resourced place of this nature should teach the child important skills like time-management and goal setting. Time-management is a vital skill, but it is not achieved easily. Time management is a skill that is learnt and imbibed over a length of time; children need to experience the discipline that is needed to finish a task and the happiness of finishing the allotted work, within a specific time span.
Children look for different things in learning settings, be it formal or recreational. Your chosen environment should be attractive, colorful and informative. Teachers or organisers must use charts, pictures, posters and drawings to liven up a class. Age appropriate audio-visual and other sensory aids should also come into play. Additional resources that are not easily available in the school may make your teaching and learning sessions arresting and interesting. For instance, when teaching a biology lesson, allow the child to, for instance: see through a microscope, see slides of bacteria, see live insects and animals (safely). This direct experience with nature adds to his knowledge and also makes him more enthusiastic about his learning. Discipline should be upheld as a must in school and recreational activities. In fun or sport-based activities, it is easy for children to step out of line and create havoc.
While children should be allowed to have fun, they should be curtailed from displaying unacceptable behavior. The best way to practice discipline is to lay down the rules at the very beginning. Let the children partake in listing out what is unacceptable, right at the beginning. They should also democratically list out penalties for derailments.
Rewards are an important aspect of any learning process. The reward can be a simple pat on the back or a token of appreciation. Motivate your children to aspire for higher attainments by rewarding their achievements. Holding competitions or sport activities where the children can show their proficiency is a reward in itself.
Children do get bored easily, during educational and structured programmes. The main thrust of an academic programme is to repeat what has been taught in class and to allow the child to learn it quickly. It is difficult to pique the child’s interest a second time, especially when the child is already tired of one dose of the same lesson. You must quickly tweak boredom by using creative techniques like an impromptu activity like: a quiz; a slideshow or a game.
Omoru writes from the UK