We live fast lives, always on the go and, more often than not when parenting early years, running behind. Dual income families, play dates, school events, errands – the list goes on until it seems as though there isn’t a spare moment in the day. And, underneath it all, is that niggling worry that, in the midst of all this activity, you’re not being the parent you wanted to be, not spending the teaching time you’d planned to, knowing how important it is to development. It doesn’t have to be that way. You have more time than you think.
Consider the minutes lost here and there throughout the day, in lines, waiting rooms, in the car and so on. They add up to quite a bit of time in an average day. Better yet, those minutes are ideal for teaching and parenting early years. Short bursts of learning are perfect for child attention spans. Using those minutes wisely can reduce, even prevent, many behavior problems. Teaching on the run keeps the process of learning fresh and exciting. You also build a stronger relationship with your child while reducing stress, worry and guilt.
Make waiting the best part
The hurry up to wait cycle is a part of parenting early years. You rush to get to a doctor’s appointment on time, only to spend long, slow minutes in the waiting room. You zip through the supermarket at top speed and land in the line where time, apparently, stands still. Waiting is hard on kids. That’s why poor behavior so often erupts while waiting. And, that is precisely what makes waiting an ideal teaching time. In fact, you can make waiting the best part of the day.
The supermarket line is the perfect for teaching numbers, letters and words. There are signs everywhere, perfect for an alpha-numeric “I Spy” game. Use the restaurant menu for some phonetics work, play some high-stakes “Hangman,” and use paper and pen to figure out the bill, tax, and tip together while waiting for food. Show young children how to do it with a number line.
Pick a language common to your region, like Spanish. Keep a vocabulary list in your pocket for waiting room practicing. Devise a secret signal for when either of you hear Spanish words you know when people are speaking Spanish nearby, sort of like old-school “Punch Buggy.” Learning is portable. You can take it anywhere. And, remember, an engaged, interested child is a well-behaved child.
Not all teaching has to be structured, nor should it be. Introduce some freestyle learning using one of the most under-rated teaching tools we have – conversation. Chat, but make it count. You could talk about empty things, video games or cartoons. Or, you could slip in some cool, interesting learning. At the grocery store, talk about what makes the colors in fruits and vegetables, concentrations of vitamins. Tell what vitamins do – think pirates, Vitamin C and scurvy. Explore and teach around your child’s interests too, perhaps the relationship between chickens and dinosaurs. Keep it casual, no pressure to remember or learn. They’ll retain it because it’s fun.
The Educational Holy Grail
Parenting early years using on the go learning gives you the chance to teach your child the most important things he can learn. When you separate learning from have-to-do-it classroom settings and make it a fun, interesting part of normal daily life, you teach concepts of life-long learning and learning for the pure joy of it. Those are the highest ideals – the Holy Grail – of education.
Thomas Learning Centers provides NECPA accredited preschool and childcare at the most affordable rates in the Denver Metro Area. Check us out at http://www.thomaslearningcenters.com , click on the offers below, drop in for a visit to get to know more about us. We’d love to meet you!
Call 877-938-1442 for general info
Lakewood 303-237-0917 or Westminster 303-427-8831