4-H is so much more than just having fun

Have you ever heard the song, “Just Fishin’?” It’s a song about a father who takes his daughter fishing and the words are, “…and she thinks we’re just fishin’, we ain’t only fishin’. This ain’t about fishin’.” The song is about making memories while spending quality time and having fun. Those are the memories we create and are remembered forever.

We are all facing challenges during these unprecedented and difficult times. Children will remember the COVID-19 pandemic as a part of history. It has been a major disruption to our lives as we knew them, but hopefully quality family time will be prominent when they look back on this one day.

Some of the fondest family memories I have from my childhood are when we would all sit around the table and play board games as a family. Looking back, I now know my father was tired from working all day and mom was exhausted from her daily chores and taking care of us, but they always made time for playing games with us. Of course, we thought we were just playing a game, but through the years we realized it was so much more. These are sweet memories that my siblings and I will have forever.

What we didn’t realize as we moved our pieces, handed out money, or read cards is that while we were having so much fun, we were also learning along the way. I can remember playing Scrabble — spelling words I already knew, learning how to spell new words, and increasing my vocabulary. There was always a dictionary close in case there were questions or discrepancies. Another learning component was basic math. You had to add and multiply to calculate your score. Jenga was another game that allowed for fine motor skill development and encouraged strategic thinking. Again, we thought we were just having fun!

Flashcards are an excellent tool to reinforce learning. I can remember when my children were younger and we made a game out of flashcards. My son would practice math constantly with flashcards. I can remember when he was in second grade and his class had a competition against the third-grade class in math; he was the only student left in the competition against a third grader, and he won.

This type of “accidental” learning may sound familiar; it is what we do in 4-H. The 4-H program has a perfect mix of activities for both youth and their families. During this time of uncertainty, we are branching into virtual programming for both our youth and adult volunteers. We announce our upcoming programs and deadlines regularly on our 4-H blog, so you can pick and choose from the different fun learning opportunities. Stay connected with 4-H through the 4-H blog (http://robeson4-h.blogspot.com/), our Facebook page (NC Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center), and our website (http://robeson.ces.ncsu.edu).

There are so many fun educational opportunities for adults and children right now. Board games are a great way to focus on the family, make memories, and have fun while learning. They can help with vocabulary, spelling, attention span, teamwork, sportsmanship, and reasoning skills. Virtual learning is also a great way to be able to interact while being safe and accidentally learning along the way. What better way to destress, have fun with your family, and most of all, make memories that will last a lifetime?

Hopefully, when we reflect on the COVID-19 pandemic, our children will recall the good times with family and maybe break out their favorite game and virtual memories for their children.

For more information, contact Wendy Maynor, Extension 4-H Youth Development Program Associate, at 910-671-3276, by Email at [email protected], or visit our website at http://robeson.ces.ncsu.edu/.

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Wendy Maynor

Contributing columnist

Wendy Maynor is the 4-H Youth Development Program associate for the North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center. She can be reached at 910-671-3276, by email at [email protected], or visit http://robeson.ces.ncsu.edu/.