You’ve taught your daughter how to spell her name, tie her shoes and say “please” and “thank you” at the appropriate times. As she heads off to school, you may think it’s time to relinquish your job as “teacher” for that of “coach” – ensuring that she does her homework and gets to school on time.
But don’t hang up your chalk and pointer just yet – throughout your child’s school years, you are her most important teacher. Your attitude toward education influences how she views learning. And, by finding educational opportunities in your daily routine, you can help your young cherub make connections between what she learns in school and the great, big world around her.
Make a trip to the market or breakfast with family fun, educational games:
- At the grocery store, explain that fruits and vegetables are sold by weight. Have your child select some apples and estimate how much they will weigh before putting them on a scale. Then have her estimate how many apples she would need to add or remove for the items to weigh one pound.
- Give your child a handful of coins to visit your “restaurant” for breakfast. Make up a small menu listing items and their cost (i.e., cereal is 25 cents, pancakes are 50 cents, juice is 15 cents, etc.). Have him “order” his breakfast, then show you how much each item will cost. Have him add up the total.
The library is an ideal place to foster a love of language. The children’s librarian can help you find age-appropriate book selections.
- Read a book with your child, with each of you acting out the role of a character in the book. Encourage him to create an alternative ending to develop vocabulary and critical thinking skills. Consider sharing your performance with your family after dinner.
- During a favorite TV program, turn on the closed captioning so your child can read along as he watches and listens to the program.
Cultivate language skills by encourage your child to think creatively about words.
- Cut a comic strip into individual panels and remove the words. Ask your child to determine what order the drawings should go in, then let her write down words for the characters.
- Arm your child with a bucket of water and paintbrush and let her write messages on the sidewalk, or give her a flashlight to write words on the wall of a darkened room.
Kids are curious, and science satisfies their curiosity as they discover new things about the world around them.
- Find a few small household objects and ask your child to predict which ones will float or sink in water. Or, conduct a test to see whether hot or cold water will freeze faster, checking the water at set intervals.
- Gather some empty bottles and ask your child to add a different amount of water to each one. Let him blow on the rims of the bottles to hear what sound they make. Ask him to arrange the bottles from the lowest to the highest pitch.
Whether your child helps you bake a cake or count change at the grocery store, simple, everyday activities can foster a love of learning while building vocabulary, conversation skills and critical thinking abilities. And the best part? It makes for fun together time, too.
For additional ideas for hands-on learning at home, check out these sites:
- Science: Fun experiments to do at home. (Parental involvement recommended.) www.sciencebob.com
- Mixing in Math: Activities to build math skills. www.mixinginmath.terc.edu
- Reading: Free worksheets that help develop your child’s reading skills. www.tlsbooks.com
- Writing: Ideas to help develop your child’s writing skills as well as links to other helpful sites. www.childparenting.about.com.