When kids are home for extended periods of time, parents may be interested in finding creative ways to educate their little ones at home. Sure, it’s not a classroom environment, but the learning doesn’t begin in the classroom — it’s more like an addendum to everything else that kids experience during their explorations.
What’s the best way to unleash your child’s imagination and teach them new things through basic concepts like household chores and playtime? There are countless modalities and solutions that can change the way you approach teaching. At least some of these types of activities have the added advantage of distracting the kids so that they remain occupied while you’re busy handling your other responsibilities. Other activities rely on parental involvement. In all cases, all they need is some comfortable clothing — think loose-fitting T-shirts and kids’ leggings. Here are some suggestions.
Maybe you spend quality time at the library for weekly storytime sessions. If it’s not possible to do that at the moment, another option is to create your own version of the classic children’s event in the comfort of your own home. Instead of simply sitting down and reading, however, put a more educational spin on the project. Set up a space that’s devoted strictly to reading with your child, ideally in a room where there’s plenty of space to move.
Why is movement necessary? Because it allows you to be more flexible with project opportunities. Transform storytime into art class by turning each session with a project. Using either paint or crayons, have your little one choose a scene from the book and bring it to life on paper. If they’re planning to get a little bit messy, make sure to dress them in appropriate attire and place a bath towel or an old sheet underneath to avoid splashes and stains on the floor.
If your child doesn’t spend too much time in the yard, or much time outside at all, then this is an excellent opportunity to introduce them to the wonders of nature. The great outdoors provides all types of natural gifts — color, sound, and light all play such incredible roles in forming the beautiful scenery that exists at every turn. You don’t need to travel far to teach your children about subjects like plants and animals.
Before you venture outside, jot down a list of elements you want to show your child. Maybe it’s the tree in the backyard. You could tie that into a science lesson about how plants grow. Maybe it’s the flower bed with mulch layered over soil. You could teach your little one about why soil erosion is harmful, and how mulch protects the ground. Point out little critters you might spot, like butterflies or ladybugs. Ask your child to describe what they see. If you’re going to be outside for a while, make sure they’re dressed appropriately; comfortable tops for girls and boys, along with flexible pants or jeans, are perfect for outdoor exploration.
When the entire family is together, it presents even more opportunities to share new activities and learn new things. Even everyday tasks, such as preparing dinner, can serve as opportunities for children. If you’re cooking, take them through each step of the process and explain why you’re doing it. For example, put an apron on over your knit dress and explain that this is to protect the fabric from spills and stains that can sometimes occur while preparing meals.
Younger children can help you with tasks such as counting ingredients or measuring amounts. If they don’t know how to do those things, now is an excellent time to incorporate the lesson while you work. Encourage older children to take part, too, albeit with safety at the forefront of your mind. They can stir, chop, and sift, depending on what you’re making. This will teach them the fine art of teamwork to achieve a mutual goal.
Children are likely to be pretty wise to the fact that you’re trying to trick them into cleaning up their rooms, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make it fun and educational. In fact, tidying up their bedrooms is a great way to teach them and get something important done at the same time. You can “play basketball” with them by placing the laundry hamper at an appropriate length from them and encouraging them to toss dirty clothes inside. Use this as a chance to teach them about subjects like distance and accuracy.
You can also use this as a chance to go over what your child has learned as you clean the room together. Conversation can help the entire project go more quickly — for both of you! — and it will allow you to better understand what your child has absorbed through what you’ve taught at home. As you make the bed and tidy up the toys, ask them what they loved best about their nature walk or story hour. These types of chats are helpful because you can find out fairly quickly how much they’ve learned. You might be surprised by how successful you’ve been!