How can I make everyday life educational for my child?
Your child’s brain is like a sponge and soaks up everything around her. Each moment and new experience shapes her development, both emotionally and intellectually. Helping your little one soak up as much knowledge as she can when she’s young will benefit her throughout her lifetime. Learning is not always done with pencil and paper, nor is learning limited to the classroom. You can help to make everyday life educational for your child through enjoyable interactive activities. Find and take advantage of the learning opportunities in your day-to-day routines.
Partner with your child’s school
Help your child excel by expanding on the skills she child is building in the classroom.
- Familiarize yourself with your child’s syllabus
- Be aware of daily, weekly, and long-term assignments or learning goals
- Participate in parent-teacher conferences and check the program’s calendar
Taking it home
Use your home environment and daily routines to strengthen the skills your child is learning while in child care. Using a few simple techniques will expand your child’s learning from the classroom into the home and will make learning fun and enjoyable for your child while allowing you to spend quality time together.
- Allow your child to help write and read the grocery list
- Involve your child with the pantry inventory, encouraging them to count and read
- Ask your child to help count how many items you put in the cart
- Help your child recognize different colors and textures while picking out fruits and vegetables
- During family meal time, discuss what’s going on in school. Ask what your child’s favorite part of the day was and discuss it with her.
Riding in the car
- Play “I Spy” with your child and challenge her to recognize different objects, letters, and colors. For example, “I spy something that starts with the letter ‘B’” or “I spy something green.”
- Use street signs or billboards to help your child find letters in his name.
- Check the weather and time of day and explore with your child how the weather changes during the day, including the sunrise and sunset and when the hottest part of the day is.
- During the car ride home, ask your child about their day. Ask open-ended questions of your child like “What was the most interesting thing you learned today?” or “Tell me about something today that made you laugh.”
Reading and literacy skills
- Sing songs with your child.
○ Music helps with memory. Use music to help your child learn new words and rhythm.
- Play word games with your child.
○ Variations include naming foods, naming words that start with the same letter, naming animals, etc. Play back and forth so you and your child both name words to expand your child’s vocabulary.
○ Allow your child to practice reading and read to your child, even if they know how to read. Don’t simply read the story to your child. Use the pictures to ask your child what she thinks may happen next in the story. Discuss the pictures and ask questions about your child sees in the pictures.
- Crayons and paper
○ Help your child to explore his creative side by drawing and writing words in different colors. Ask your child to draw things in a category, for example: things that start with the same letter, animals, or foods.
○ Count out loud whenever you can. During a bath, count your child’s fingers and toes. Count buttons while you help your child dress, or count steps while you walk with your child.
- Recognize size and shapes
○ Point out to your child the difference between ‘big’ and ‘small.’ Use objects around the house to help your child label different shapes - the tissue box is square, and the apple is round.
- Puzzles and sorting
○ Help your child learn problem solving skills by putting different puzzle parts together. If you don’t have puzzles, your child can learn similar concepts by stacking plastic food containers, matching plastic food containers with the appropriate sized lid, or sorting mixed cereal pieces into groups (color, shape, kind of cereal, etc.).
- Patterns and blocks
○ Help your child learn sequence order using various patterns or blocks. Find and point out patterns around the house in fabric or flooring. Ask your child to help you continue a pattern. For more on using patterns to help children understand sequence, check out this post.
- Go for walks
○ Inspire your child’s curiosity by asking what she hears, sees, and smells while taking a walk. Allow your child to touch and discuss the colors and textures of stones, puddles, flowers, and leaves.
- Explore different foods
○ Talk about where milk comes from, how apples grow on trees, and that corn grows from the ground. Experiment with how water freezes to ice and thaws back into water.
○ Serve your child one kind of food prepared different ways and talk about the differences (carrots that have been steamed, roasted, or are raw; apples that have been baked or are raw)
- Encourage your child
○ As your child learns new skills like talking or walking, encourage him. Support and guide him while he builds his self-esteem.
- Comfort your child
○ When your child cries, offer comfort and warmth. Praise and hug your child regularly. Your support teaches your child to love and trust you and others. This will help your child get along with teachers and play well with other students.
- Chores and responsibility
○ Model for your child how chores should be completed, and then encourage her to try on her own. Praise her efforts, even if the outcome isn’t perfect. This will give your child the confidence to try and believe in herself.
Learning doesn’t have to stop for the summer or when your child is outside the classroom. Use these tips to engage with your child and continue his or her development at home.
Visit abcquality.org to learn more about child care and development, search for a child care provider and learn about the state’s voluntary quality rating system. ABC Quality is administered by the SC Department of Social Services’ Division of Early Care and Education.
By ABC Quality Team at 16 Oct 2018, 11:00 AM