Reading with Dada
The brain naturally looks for patterns and tries to connect new ideas and concepts to things it already recognizes. Something as simple as having a predictable schedule each day has been shown through brain scans to improve learning and memory. This doesn't mean you need to have each minute scheduled or each day following exactly the same schedule. When I taught young children in a school, I created a picture schedule. Even if the day was an "off day" (picture day, parent picnic, holiday party), the kids could check the schedule to see what comes next. At home we have specific routines we follow each day. After nap time, we take off diapers, have a quick circle time, then snack time, and free play. Not complicated, yet they thrive (and insist) when we follow the schedule.
Rocky is such a good sport when the kids dress him up.
Studies have shown that with two classes (actually it was 20 classes for each side, summarized into 2 sets of data) presented the same information, over the same time, and all other variables equalized, there was one predictor of student performance. If the teacher was predictable, student performance was high. If the teacher was unpredictable, students failed to perform up to even average expectations. If the students knew what subject was going to be taught before beginning, knew the method being used to teach (even when the method varied by class), and how long the lesson would last they were able to better focus and retain more of what they were taught.
Reading the instruction booklets that came with a toy
Kids also pick up on non-verbal signals that teachers and parents are sending. A positive or negative attitude about Math/Science/etc is understood by children as young as 4, even if it is never spoken. If a child has a parent who doesn't like a subject and teachers who don't like the same subject for 2 years in a row, they are likely to not like that subject for the rest of their lives, even if they have a natural aptitude for it. What is a parent to do? First, think of your most hated subject and decide you like it. It's slightly more complicated than that, but not by much. If you hate Math, find a simple Math game that is fun for you. It doesn't have to be challenging or at your level, it can be at your child's level, but let your children see you enjoying Math. Second, find out the least favorite subject of your child's teacher. If your child has multiple teachers who dislike the same subject, you need to really step up your enjoyment and focus on that subject. Most studies show that Math is the least liked subject overall, but especially by women. If your child's teachers are women this will most likely be the subject you need to inspire. Making learning fun for your child, means showing them learning is fun for you as well.
Drawing with chalk