How do you encourage a kid to be a life long learner? Well, you have to make learning fun and relevant. Simple right?
Not so much, especially as schools are increasingly teaching curriculum that is not student led and often taught just to pass arbitrary tests and standards.
HOORAY! Why do I cheer? Because as a nanny we do not have those sad little tests with their pathetic fill in the blank bubbles. We can FOLLOW the interest of the child.
That of course doesn't mean we don't need to teach content. It means we can make learning FUN and RELEVANT which will in turn help a child become a lifelong learner.
Here is what I mean.
I like Disney. I mean, I really am a Disney freak. I go to the parks as often as I can afford, see the movies and know the trivia. It is no surprise that when I started a business I looked at marketing and business books by the Disney company. They have lots of them! I learned a bunch about business plans, marketing and organizational stuff from those examples from Disney execs.
I have a nanny kid who loves princesses. (I swear I did not encourage this. Ok, maybe a little) She loves playing princesses. So we know a bunch about them. But I make sure to use the princesses as a jumping off point. In fact, I bet I can list a bunch of activities that taught her important skills using the princesses. Don't believe me? Here goes....
1. We counted the princesses as we put them in the castle. (ok easy I know!!)
2. We looked on a map to see what country they came from.
3. We used new vocabulary such as, kingdom, raven haired, stupendous, archetype and more!
4. We used princess beads to work on fine muscle skills.
5. We built castles using our blocks.
6. We worked on telling time with the clock on our castle. (poor Cinderella)
7. We practiced manners by playing out greetings, good byes, pleases and thank yous.
8. We developed relationship skills as the princesses often fight, have best friends and have to share things.
9. We stretched our muscles as we danced to princess theme songs.
10. We accessed our patience as we waited for princesses to wake from their slumber.
11. We measured ingredients as we made princess cookies.
12. We studied plant growth as we grew a garden for the princesses to play in.
As you can see, and I could go on and on, there are some important learning outcomes stemming from the play we do. You probably are doing all these things, but remembering what they get out of these activities helps you to ask questions, be patient as they experiment and introduce new ideas. It also is crucial that you share with their parents that not only did you PLAY princesses today, you also encouraged proper 3 finger grip when you were coloring!