With the start of school comes a renewed focus on education for parents of small children. We want our pre-school aged children to be learning and absorbing the world around them just as much as we expect our school-aged children to be doing so! Here are some easy ways to incorporate learning into your every day activities:
Get a routine going. This will help your children know what to expect when, thus leading to less poor behavior. Having the freedom of a flowing day will give you the best opportunity to interject learning into your daily activities and will give your children the ability to look forward to things they know are going to happen!
Sing songs. Making up your own words to familiar tunes, or creating a brand new song all together helps stimulate learning on various levels within the brain. Musical memory is often stronger than verbal memory both in the short and long term, so anything your child learns through a song has the potential to stay with him better than if he was to have learned it through words alone. Singing a particular song about scrubbing the different body parts every time a child takes a bath, for instance, will help him learn his body parts without even trying, and can also help you get through bath time since it’s a game instead of a chore.
Use adjectives while speaking. While giving instructions, say “walk on the green grass,” or “use your plastic spoon instead of your hands, please.” Describing what you’re doing and reinforcing this by repeating the same words when your child repeats your action is a natural way for them to learn colors, shapes, and other descriptive words rather than having to later rely on recognizing colors from the pages on a book.
Create outdoor time. Being a busy parent seems to leave little time for playing outside with a child who needs constant supervision. It would be nice if we could all build that 30 minute time block into our day, but the reality is that sometimes it doesn’t happen. The outdoor world is so rich in sensory stimulation and cause-and-effect processing though, that it’s an invaluable and free resource to help us teach our children! Try to create outdoor time by taking your child to the mailbox every day, or to the compost pile out back. It may only be a few minutes at a time, but it will provide the opportunity for you to teach street safety, experience the weather, and discuss animals, plants, colors, textures, and people. You’ll be surprised at how much your toddler can learn about the outdoors in just 90 seconds a day!
Let them try new things. It’s easier to do things ourselves–and a lot faster than allowing a little person to try! What could you allow your toddler to work on, though, even if it isn’t done correctly or takes a lot longer? Folding or stacking washcloths, picking up the floor, helping you put laundry into the dryer, and loading silverware into the dishwasher are all simple things that a child can begin doing at a young age. Allowing them the time and opportunity to try doing these “grown up” tasks not only helps to develop problem solving and motor skills, but it can also make them feel important, give them a sense of accomplishment, and even help you out once they learn how to do that task!
Other ideas that can help a parent easily incorporate learning into every day life? Comment below!