By Lani Aquino
Family traditions are often the standout memoires of childhood. Whether it’s a recurring vacation, a holiday celebration, or even a game-day ritual for a favorite team, there’s a lot to be said for creating these nostalgia-inducing experiences. There’s no better boon to parenting than seeing children follow these same practices even when they are outside of their childhood homes.
Traditions don’t have to be seasonally exclusive though. They don’t have to be of the bells and whistles variety either. When parents create traditions centered around learning, children are able to recognize the familial value that is placed on education and come to see learning as an integral part of everyday life.
Learning isn’t just for school and homework hours. It should be fostered and encouraged throughout everyday life. While giving kids a break from schoolwork is necessary, that break shouldn’t always be filled by turning to a screen. There are lots of activities with a little learning sprinkled in for good measure that can become tradition-building alternatives in any household.
Budgeting- Parents don’t need to include kids on budgeting discussions for every household expense, but talking about and creating a plan for big purchases, both familial and personal, is a great tool. Having some transparency when it comes to finances can help kids gain an understanding of the intricacies and set a foundation for positively building this lifelong skill. Working together to create a saving plan for a trip or a game or a bike or an extracurricular activity is a great learning opportunity.
Volunteering- Families can do wonders for building empathy and a sense of belonging when they volunteer together. Many people do this at the holidays, but making it a more consistent experience can offer so many more takeaways to all those participating. Learning to positively contribute to the community is an invaluable skill for raising kind kids and a great family legacy.
Reading- Yes, reading is often an assigned school activity, but when it becomes a valued family pastime, kids really reap the rewards. Families can pick a single book to read together or just create a planned time where everyone makes a personal reading selection. Another tradition can be creating a reading nook at home. A designated space for reading with cozy pillows and proper lighting puts a spotlight on reading’s importance.
Exploring- The idea of exploring or adventuring with kids is a great way to build their interest and willingness to try new things. Whether it’s hitting a festival, trying out spelunking, choosing a non-traditional vacation destination, or sampling a new cuisine, building a sense of adventure opens so many opportunities for leaning about new people, places, and ideas. It helps kids learn to appreciate differences and gain exposure to new ideas.
Committing- Adopt the family mantra of (Insert last name here)’s don’t quit. Meaning that once something is started, it needs to be seen through to the finish. This goes for all family members. Grit guru Angela Duckworth shares the Hard Thing Rule her family follows. Each family member chooses one hard thing that requires deliberate daily practice, and they stick with that activity for the run of the class, season, etc. It could be Pilates, an instrument, or a creative class, but once it is personally selected, it must be seen through to the end. Learning the importance of commitment at an early age can do wonders for helping kids develop the grit to tackle the future.
Gaming- Instituting a family game night is a great tradition that brings all family members together. There are lots of options that are suitable for families with kids of varying ages. From taking turns and graciously winning or losing to strategy and critical thinking, so many lessons can be learned from gameplay. Game nights often become the favorite night of the week or month, and this tradition can easily carry on as kids leave the nest.
Learning at home doesn’t have to be of the pencil and paper variety. There are innumerable ways that families can come together to build traditions where learning is valued. By being active and intentional with our words and practices, parents can lead by example and foster a love for lifelong learning outside of the classroom.
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