This is a guest post by freelance writer Patricia Dimick.
As a parent, not only are you the first educator that your child encounters, but you are also the most important teacher that your child will ever come across. You have a very important role in helping your child develop academic skills and opportunities to do so regularly happen in the comfort of your own home.
Living in a home with young children often means something exciting is always happening. Everyday activities around your home provide a great learning opportunity for your child.
These daily unstructured and mostly unplanned activities give you an opportunity to instill a lifelong love of learning in your little ones. Take a look how you can help your children develop skills that they will need to succeed in school and throughout life through these 5 steps.
1. Play With Your Child
While many parents find it incredibly easy to hand their child the latest electronic gadget or to sit them in front of the television, children thrive in environments where they regularly interact with their parents.
For example, when the child is on the floor playing with blocks, take a few minutes and play with them. While your child may learn to make a taller structure by watching you do it, the most important thing that they will learn is communication skills.
When children watch you expressing your thoughts, especially your emotions, in appropriate ways, then they catch these concepts and can later apply them to their own peer interactions and to interactions with other adults in their environment.
Family game nights can be a perfect opportunity to build family unity and help your child improve some basic academic skills. Many games require children to apply simple math and reading skills, making learning fun. Most games require strategic planning requiring children to advance in their thinking skills while having a good time.
2. Do Chores Together
Teaching your children how to clean up after themselves will not only help keep the house tidy but it can also teach them discipline, responsibility, and organization. Do the chores together and count the items that you put away and name the colors. This way, your child will reinforce their vocabulary and counting skills.
Doing chores will help your child gain a strong work ethic that teaches them to keep going even when they are so bored that they simply want to throw their hands up and quit.
They will also learn to organize their day to accomplish the most important tasks while they are having a great time.
Take them into the kitchen with you and let them help you make simple dishes. Show them what happens when yeast and water are combined to make bread and let them help clean up afterward as you show them what happens when you combine vinegar and baking soda and use them as a natural cleaning solution. These kinds of experiments may instill a love of science in your child. There are so many skills that get taught naturally when children are allowed to help prepare meals.
3. Use Technology Wisely
When it comes to strengthening your child’s academic skills, technology can be a helpful tool that can foster the development of various skills. Choose apps, programs, and videos that are appropriate for your child’s age and development level, and participate in those activities with them.
There are many educational apps that can help your kids develop their reading, speaking and counting skills. Some can help enhance other skills such as hand-eye coordination, problem solving, decision making and logical thinking.
Your kids will love playing these kinds of apps because they are fun and at the same time, they will learn without even realizing it.
For example, coding apps are a perfect combination of fun and learning. They allow your child to learn the basics of programming by playing educational games right in the comfort of your home. Learning how to code at a very young age helps children develop various skills which can benefit them in numerous other areas of their lives. Problem-solving skills, creativity, and logical thinking are all skills which can be fostered by learning how to code.
4. Get Creative
Dig out the crayons and some paper and let your child draw to their heart’s content. Sit with them and let them see you enjoying being creative as well. While you are interacting, discuss different aspects of the project such as how certain colors make them feel to build their vocabulary.
Look through the things that you have accumulated around your house and think up a creative project to use those supplies. While your kids are having a great time, teach them about recycling and the importance of taking care of the environment.
You can also engage in longer projects. Depending on the age of the child, let them help you build a project that will take you several days to complete. You will both look forward to completing the project together.
Along the way, your child may learn important math concepts, the value of reading directions, the importance of budgeting and many other skills that children sitting in front of the television never seem to master. They will improve their gross and fine muscle skills. Most importantly, they will learn to take pride in quality workmanship.
5. Read and Tell Stories
Reading stories is one of the best ways you can help your child develop their language skills. You can read stories as a part of a bedtime routine. Reading bedtime stories will not only help your child fall asleep, but it will also positively affect your child’s comprehension, communication, and critical thinking skills.
You will also instill an appreciation of language and a love of reading in your child.
When the child gets older, you can let them read to you and practice their reading skills. You can also make up your own stories and tell them to one another. This will help your child to think logically and greatly improve their creativity and imagination.
The safe and familiar atmosphere of your home is a great place to introduce and reinforce academic skills while doing regular daily activities. In fact, you and your child will both be having so much fun that your kids will forget that they are learning!
Patricia Dimick is a Denver based freelance writer and a fun stay-at-home mom. This passionate coffee drinker loves to write about parenting topics and enjoys DIY projects. Patricia spends her free time playing table tennis or enjoying trips to nature with her precious daughter and loving husband. You can reach her @patricia_dimick.