Victoria is a stay-at-home mom, author, educator, and blogger at Healthy at Home. She currently lives in Colorado with her family.
Having been a teacher for almost ten years, one of the most frequent requests I had from parents was what they could do from home to help their child academically. I loved getting this question from parents because the answer was so easy.
Sometimes it's difficult for parents to randomly jump into their child's homework and try to figure out what the teacher is working on at the moment, but there are so many others ways to help give your child an academic boost outside of homework help with little to no effort.
In fact, you don't even have to wait until your kids are in school to get started with their "education". Any understanding they can begin school with will only give their education that much more of a boost. And the best part, all of the best ways you can help start with things you are already doing. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at how easy this is going to be.
The clothes have to be cleaned, and someone in your house is doing them. Why not include your kid(s) in the process? The laundry process lends itself to teaching so many great skills like colors, sorting, volume, measurement, temperature, time, prediction, estimation and even responsibility.
Talk to them while separating the clothes and get their help. Tell them why you're separating the clothes or using different water temperatures. What about the size of the load versus how much soap you are using or soap measurements (ounces, cups)? How long will the laundry be washing/drying? Can they make some predictions?
Here's another great opportunity! Dishes are another inevitable chore that could be turned into a fantastic learning time. Cleaning the dishes can be perfect for teaching temperature, spacial recognition, volume, measurement, time, and, of course, responsibility.
Especially when kids are very young, these times with mom or dad can be very exciting. They can learn about soap and how it works, being gentle with breakable items, helping take care of the household and being a valuable member of the family, along with many academic topics.
This is one of my toddler's favorite activities. As a toddler, he already understands temperature, measurement, volume, time, following directions, kitchen safety, reading, and cooking by doing it with me. He can correctly measure ingredients using the proper measuring tools, follow a recipe that I read him, stir a bowl full of ingredients without spilling (much), and even understands the oven.
In fact, he can make scrambled eggs and toast with jam by himself, and has been able to for awhile. So think, not only are you imparting valuable academic skills by involving your kids, you are teaching them independence and self-sufficiency. There are way too many individuals that need this kind of training today.
Your children may not be able to handle complicated math yet, or be able to do this on their own, but there is a great deal of value in talking them through what you are doing and encouraging them to help by making suggestions about money expenditures or answering simple questions about the process.
Through this experience, they can be learning math, budgeting, financial responsibility, check writing, awareness of financial responsibility of a household and so much more. My little one was able to understand addition and subtraction at 2 years old. Given the chance, children can really show their capabilities.
I think most parents already know the value of getting a family pet for their children. Taking care of a pet teaches that others have needs and desires, discipline, taking care of another, dependence, time commitment, unconditional love and responsibility.
We have had a variety of pets in our house. At any given time we've had fish, a turtle, cats, dogs, and chickens. It seems like kids are drawn to caring for others. The more animals we had, the more excitement my little one would show for waking up every morning to care for them all himself. Maybe it's a natural inclination for love or being need and important.
Consider all of the other chores you do around the house like dusting, organizing, painting, mopping, sweeping, pulling weeds, washing windows or mirrors, vacuuming, wiping tables, putting away groceries, etc. The chances to teach skills like time, lists, time management, responsibility, and so many others, are endless.
What's even better is the hidden value of teaching your children that they matter, are loved and have value because you're taking the time to talk them through what you're doing and teach them. Those are even more valuable than any academic skill.
There are likely tons of other like things you do for your home or family that you can involve them in as well. Keeping a calendar, making lists, going grocery or clothing shipping, fixing items in your home, working on the car, buying a car, volunteering, and even daily interactions with people give you and your child perfect moments to learn important skills.
Don't underestimate the value of your time and attention in your child's life, or the serious value in all of the like things you do. Everyday, your kids are learning things like reading a calendar, alphabetizing, organization, reasoning, critical thinking, spreadsheets and charts, leadership, social skills, generosity, kindness, honesty, etc. from all the things you do. Be purposeful in it.
With just a little initiative on your part, any and every part of your everyday life can become a "lesson". It really doesn't matter if you are truly able to help with homework or not. Your kids are being taught how to complete homework on their own at school. The skills and lessons they are really learning the most from, are the ones they learn from you.
What kind of lessons are you teaching, on purpose or not? What kinds of things would you like your child to learn? Teachers can only do so much. Start now and be purposeful in your daily interactions with your children. They will surprise you.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2018 Victoria Van Ness
Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on April 30, 2018:
Wonderful advice. We do a lot of nature stuff. Stretching the brain is a favorite activity. I have to be more careful not to make every single thing a lesson.
Letting him teach me is awesome.