Tip 2: Try to Make Learning Fun (see Tip # 1 here)
Learning Should be Hard Fun!
When you are learning to play a sport, or a musical instrument, there is almost always two parts: 1) You need to practice; and 2) then, you get to demonstrate what you’ve learned, in a game or a recital (GAME). Knowing there will be a GAME makes the practice a lot easier to endure. The GAME is the “fun thing” that motivates you to practice hard.
Learning a subject like math certainly requires a lot of practice. But you can help motivate your student to practice harder if they know that there will be a chance to demonstrate their new skills in a fun way.
Quizzes and Exams aren’t usually considered to be GAMES by the students. They’re not fun, and they are stressful. Testing is necessary to assess learning. But it’s usually not a great motivator or reward for hard work.
Consider ending each lesson with an activity that allows the student to demonstrate what they’ve learned. And be certain that you are there, as the audience or a participant. When they do well, applaud. When they don’t do so well, give them a “Good Try”.
Here are some ideas for post-practice GAMES:
1. Race your student: Print two copies of the worksheet; you do yours while the student does his. The first one to get the entire worksheet 90% correct wins!
2. Take it outdoors: If your student is studying Geometry, have him show you how he can calculate the area of your driveway.
3. “I need your help”: “What percentage of this grocery bill was spent on vegetables, what percentage on meat?” “I want to build a vegetable garden in the back yard. How many feet of fencing do I need? How much seed will I need?”
4. Change a game: Play your favorite game with the student, but change it so that you have to answer questions on the lesson before each move. If they like to play checkers, play checkers with them. But before they move, they have to tell you what the square root of 16 is.
5. PC Game Time: There are lots of good websites with great educational games students can play as a reward, and as practice. Here are a few math sites that I like. I’ve checked these out, and find them useful and appropriate for middle school math students. But you should check them out and use your own judgment. And this will be a better GAME if you spend the time watching them demonstrate their skills, rather than just turning them loose.
Please visit my blog to read Tip # 1: Don’t teach until the concept is “covered”, teach until the concept is “mastered” and Tip 3: Kids Can Forget – Schedule Regular Review“, @Tips for Homeschool Educators.