View Full Version : Questions: Parents With Young Children

06-07-2005, 08:51 AM
I'm doing a piece on a fun way of learning for children, and I have a question that I could use various answers to in order to help me.

What I need is parents who have children, or have had children in lower grades (1'st through 6'th). Many kids (mine included) tend to not want to do their homework or study. Seems they would rather play, and when you do try and set down with them to help them learn they don't keep their attention focused on what you're trying to teach them. What I would like to know is some ways that you have tried to make learning fun with your children. Ways that kept their attention focused, and ways that helped them learn. For example, if you made studing fun through a game mention how it was played.

Please list some ways you made the learning fun, and how it was done. Thank you very much in advance for your assistance.

This is not only for my piece, but it is also for my personal knowledge as I have two young boys (ages 9 and 10) that don't want to pay attention when I try to help them study subjects they are working on in school.

06-08-2005, 03:03 AM
My son was in the first grade last year. He does better at paying attention and getting his work done when I act like an idiot... which by the way I am very good at. :hi:

Seriously tho, I have found that my children are more apt to pay attention when I present information to them or help them with homework in a manner that is not typical of my usual behavior.

We have danced to spelling words at the kitchen table, sung mathematical equations and role played various scenes all for the purpose of learning. When we read, we make sound effects and read in different voices. Sometimes we make a tent in the middle of the living room..or what temporarily becomes the African Jungle through our imagination.

Hope this helps,

06-08-2005, 03:30 AM
I'm 14 so I'm not in those grades....but they have computer games that I used to think were fun that presented math, science, and history. I used to think they were fun becuase of the story lines or some were just fun to play. So they play and learn.....they wont know what hit em....

06-08-2005, 03:39 AM

Thanks for your response. It does help, and I'm looking forward to more helpful responses.

It never hurts to act silly with your kids, or like you said an "idiot". Afterall, we only live once, and our children are only young once; they grow up way too fast. My daughter will be in Junior High next year, and it doesn't seem like she should be that old.

Thank you again for your response, and for your help. I will be looking forward to all other responses.

God Bless,

Visit my site: http://www.mistisandefur.com

06-08-2005, 07:13 AM
I have two M&M counting books that I've used for both my boys. My boys are 15 and four. I used these books when my older son was in grade school to help teach him his addition and subtraction. I'm using them for my four year old right now, who will be starting school this Sept.

The books show M&Ms on each page that they need to count, add, subtract, etc... What you do is buy a bag of real M&Ms to place on the pictures on each page. It makes it more fun and kind of like a game because rather than just counting on a boring page in a book, they're counting real M&Ms to match the pictures in the book that they get to eat when they get the answer right. The books are really cute and both my boys have had fun with them.

I know your kids are a little old for this kind of thing, but I hope this helps with some ideas for the piece you're writing.

Good luck!


06-08-2005, 04:44 PM
I have only one daughter. She's 14 now... and some of the things we're dealing with now....I could just :eek: :faint:

When she was 2 years to 5 years, a good bit of fun learning happened at stores.
Me, "What are those?"
Her, "Coocumbers."
"What color are they?"
"I'll hold the bag, your pick out three pretty ones."
Learned colors, numbers and decent eating habits all in one shot.

Ages 7 through 11 (OMG especially the 4th grade...Grrr) Homework was a battlefield for a while.
First thing I learned: don't let them do homework in their bedroom. I'd walk in an hour later and she'd be asleep on her mathbook.

The kitchen table is where it all happened. The kitchen timer was our friend for 20 minute stretches. Timer went off, both of us would go outside and kick the soccer ball around or play badminton.

The second HUGE thing I learned was to let her vent to me about her day, (the happy, bad, goofy, and upsetting) have a snack and change her clothes before she tackled homework. I'd stay in the kitchen with her, looking over her shoulder sometimes.

She discovered how useful flashcards can be, and we'd dance, do cheers or a skit based on them in the front room. (I think Gehanna mentions this.)
(You should've seen the cheer I did on abstinence when she was in 7th grade! :o )


06-09-2005, 09:03 AM
Thanks so much for the help - keep em' coming. The responses so far are helping greatly, and I'm even learning a little about parenting along the way. More responses will help even more. Just wanted to say thanks to all the responses so far.

Oh, Celeste, could you tell me where you can buy the M&M Counting Books? I'd never heard of these before until you mentioned them. Does Amazon sell them? Is M&M Counting Books the title?

06-09-2005, 04:15 PM
Oh, Celeste, could you tell me where you can buy the M&M Counting Books? I'd never heard of these before until you mentioned them. Does Amazon sell them? Is M&M Counting Books the title?

I ordered them from the Children's Book of the Month Club. But here's a link for Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-handle-form/104-9134028-1846329

Yes, "M&Ms Brand Counting Book" is the title. Amazon is showing only the brown one. There's a yellow one too.

Here's the book at the book club: http://www.cbomc.com/doc/full_site_enrollment/detail/fse_product_detail.jhtml?repositoryId=588740B113

06-10-2005, 01:11 AM
I don't think I have any creative learning advice, but I think I relate to the children's side of homework since I have a son and going threw college again.

It's really not fair for these school systems to decide that 6 and 7 year olds need two or three hours of homework per night. These school boards set these standards so teachers have to assign x amount of hours of homework per week without taking many things into consideration but test scores. Let's look at how the kids have to live:

1) kids are already spending at least 6 hours a day in school, and that's IF they don't take a bus, then it's an 8 hour minimum for many kids

2) all the colleges want "well rounded" individuals, so kids get all these extra programs, sports, and clubs shoved down their throats from grade 1. This takes up tons of time every week.

3) children have their own friends and social life at all ages, and they need to have time to develope social skills outside of sports, girl scouts, etc, so that they know how to function outside of group activities.

4) the parents have their own lives and agenda and things that need to get done. When I have 3 papers due and 40 other little school projects that I have to get done, it's really difficult to make sure my son has enough help to do all of his activities too.

So the amount of homework they demand from kids today is not resonable. Kids aren't supposed to work 40+ hour weeks. Of course they don't want to finish (or start) doing homework, the only time they get to relax is when they're asleep.

06-10-2005, 06:48 PM
I teach my children at home. We do have problems at times keeping them focused at times. But we use a lot of board games. They get to choose games too. We have a couple rather pricy games such as a game called Robo-Rally. (this game can run about 60 dollars and up for the set!) but we use simple card games and dice games. Robo-Rally teaches critical thinking skills. It allows the kids to decide how to move the robot on the board and does have some chance in it too!

Dice games are easy and we play them just about everywhere. They are simple normally. You can do a search online to find some simple dice games for kids.

We play Boggle, scrabble, and a load of other games. Of course there is always the computer. The Internet is a vast world of learning and fun even with the creeps that could be out there.

We play the always in demand (at least in my household) cloud game. You know, the one where you get to tell what you see in the clouds. It's fun, free and usually passes the time pretty good. Even my oldest loves to do that (she is 11 almost 12 in a few weeks) It's my hope that she will enjoy it even in later years. I know I do!

Mom's a bit crazy I'd say. I have song silly songs for added effect. We make up songs a lot about things we need to learn. My kids sometimes don't feel like being "tested" so I test them out in subtle ways. My oldest, I teach her math skills when she cooks. How important that is in cooking! My youngest who will be 6 in December likes to just play right now and I think that teaches her too! Pretend play, like puppets and puppet plays are a good bet.

When my oldest was still in traditional school, she needed a routine to get her work done. I agree putting them at a living room, dining room table. My dad used to have to bribe me to get me to do my math problems. He'd time me and pay me so much for so many I got done. Eventually I got good and got money! It was worth it. So I think a reward system has advantages.

Having them explain their own homework to you is always fun. I have my youngest "teach" me what she is learning so that I know that she "gets" it. Or sometimes she teaches it to my fiance when he gets home so I know she "gets" it.

06-11-2005, 06:23 AM
My kids experienced both public school (nightmare) and home-schooling. Some of the things we did were already mentioned above, like singing the spelling words, board and computer games (Math Blaster and Where in the World and Where in the US is Carmen Sandiago), Brain Quest flash cards and using the M & M book.

We found that if you don't make it look like work, they'll take right to the task at hand. (well most of the time anyway) We even made a minature rainforest in our "school room". That was the best time ever and they learned so much from it. (so did I come to think of it)

Be creative and don't think it has to be expensive. Many store owners when they knew we were homeschooling donated some things for our projects. (ex. large carpet tube used for a floor to ceiling tree in the rainforest from which we hung all kinds of stuffed animals we bought really cheap at the second hand store for buying in bulk.)

Learning math can be fun by setting up a pretend store with items you already have in your kitchen and using a pencil and paper instead of a calculator to add up the items and figure out how much change to give the customer.

Learning about the states can be done when you plan pretend (or real) trips and finding out how far each one is from your home and how much time it would take if you drove to them. Have the kids call or write the state's Chamber of Commerce or Department of Tourism and get FREE maps and guides. Kids LOVE to get mail in their name too.

Teaching them life skills will help them learn the basics too. Show them how to balance a checkbook. Learning to sew or cook teaches measurements.

Most of all, HAVE FUN WITH IT!

06-16-2005, 04:46 PM
I'm 14 so I'm not in those grades....but they have computer games that I used to think were fun that presented math, science, and history. I used to think they were fun becuase of the story lines or some were just fun to play. So they play and learn.....they wont know what hit em....(Chaos, are you aware that many of us struggle to read in the font and color you're selecting? It's your choice, of course, but I suspect only young eyes can make it out easily. Thanks for considering a change, even if you decide against it.)

I didn't home-school, but I was intensely involved in our kids' daily lives. They knew that their 'job' was school, including homework, and that we expected them to do well. (By design, we live in a really good school district.) We sang, danced, 'camped' in the living room or under the dining room table, chalked math problems on the driveway, played poker and card games, made our own flash cards, played '20 Question,' quizzed one another (especially fun when the kid does the quizzing) at the dinner table, and read on-subject books or stories aloud long after the kids could read for themselves. (They're both in highly competitive colleges now--and I read to them for a while the other afternoon.) Any time we had a wait, like the dentist's office, was a chance for word games. We, too, played board games of every kind, and encouraged drawing. Cooking taught fractions (and both kids make decent baked goods from scratch, often without recipes).

One thing that especially helped our distractable son when he was about the OP's sons' ages was a kitchen timer. If he buckled down and concentrated for a short time (10 or 15 minutes, depending on his age and how much homework there was), he got an equal amount of time to goof off before the next buckle-down session. If he self-distracted, the timer was reset and we started over. He was able to accept the impartial timer much more easily than my frustration.

It was a tough period, with a half-hour's homework taking all afternoon at times, but he did learn to focus when it was in his best interest. By his teens, he self-distracted much less, and now, almost not at all. (His dad's kind of dreamy at times, too.)

Maryn, hoping this is some help.

06-17-2005, 11:14 AM
It's really not fair for these school systems to decide that 6 and 7 year olds need two or three hours of homework per night. These school boards set these standards so teachers have to assign x amount of hours of homework per week without taking many things into consideration but test scores.

Wow! I don't know where you live, but I hope I never move there :)

In my children's elementary school, in kindergarten they had no homework at all, then in 1st grade they had (no more than) 15 minutes a night, and each year it increased a small amount until by 5th grade, they had (no more than) an hour a night.

Now if the homework was a review of a concept that was taught in class that day and my child didn't understand it, then yeah, it took longer. But for the most part...

Our problem with an overabundance of homework came with middle school. When your child has a different teacher for every class and they're all assigning homework, that adds up.

Your points are extremely valid. Talk to the teacher about it!

But getting back to the original question, for my kids the timer thing worked wonders. Another thing is *no distractions* If the TV was on in the next room, forget it. I almost hate to admit this, but when they small (before starting school) I offered them incentives (that’s my word, others might call it bribes :) ). I might ask them “What’s 2 + 3” and if they got it right, they got a penny. And then for harder things that took them a while to do, like learning their phone number, they got a whole quarter. The ‘small change’ method only works when they’re very young though. :) There are a lot of educational shows/videos for kids too. Does anyone remember those “School House Rock” videos? (I’m showing my age here) I found some of those at the video store and my kids loved them. We did a lot of singing too. They learned their phone number by singing “My phone number is XXX-XXX” Then I realized I’d forgotten to teach them their area code and we had to do it all over again.

06-17-2005, 04:28 PM
It might amuse you to know that both our kids (19 and 20) still sing certain phone numbers (in their heads, mostly) like their dad's office and that one teacher who encouraged students to call with questions. That's how they learned them, and that's how they're locked in their heads.

06-17-2005, 06:35 PM
I have two children, ages 7 and 4. Both are exceedingly bright and I'd like to think I helped in some small way, other than making donations...

Anyway, first I must agree with others who have objected to HW quantity. In my opinion, elementary school children should have no HW; maybe one or two projects a semester, but that's it! By daughter's (the older one) HW was nothing but bustwork for her, and I know it will continue to be such for several more years.

How do we make learning "fun"? Well, I would say questioning is number one; I never limit their questions and always try to answer them fully. Often, this results in longer errand-running trips; grocery store trips tend to run several hours (I take them with me). Word games and the like are great, too. We are always playing things like 20 questions when we are driving somewhere. Books are huge: I began weekly library trips when my daughter turned two. Also, I've let them create their own libraries, as it were, at home. We hit the bookstore every couple of weeks or so. Does it work? Well, my daughter just finished first grade: her reading level is that of a sixth-grader (yes, I'm proud).

Finally, there are rewards: straight A's (the only level that will result in a reward) allow my daughter to choose one family outing. She invariably chooses bowling...

Rob :)

06-23-2005, 09:21 AM
I got to say thank you again for all the helpful responses. Your help was very much appreciated. I'm going to start the article now, but if any other parent out there wishes to reply with responses that haven't already been mentioned I'm open to reading them. As I said in the beginning, this is not only for my article, but also for my personal use with my children as well. I had some ideas of my own that I will put into my article, and also use with my children, but I wanted to know what other parents do too.

Again, thank you for the help, I'll keep watch for other responses that have not already been covered.

mrs75 (Misti)