Parents who enroll their children in early childhood education desire more than childcare. They want their children to experience physical, social, emotional, and intellectual growth. Though many parents are often balancing a variety of everyday tasks, there’s no doubt that investing in their children’s educational journey holds great value. In fact, researchers have found that parent involvement in their children’s learning and development produces significant benefits to children, parents, educators, and the school.
The Gardner School is intentional about incorporating learning into everyday tasks during the school day. In addition to our curriculum and enrichment activities, our teachers take every opportunity to sprinkle teachable moments into each day’s routine. Laura Leslie, teacher at The Gardner School of Franklin, says, “We use our classroom learning centers to help students learn that good choices yield good consequences.” The classroom learning centers include science, blocks, fine motor, math, home, cozy corner. “As students play and interact at each station, there are numerous opportunities to ask them questions and spark learning conversations about daily tasks that fit along with the activities,” says Leslie.
So, how can parents create this type of learning environment at home without adding extra planning or activities to the calendar? Rest at ease with these five practical ways for moms and dads to use each day’s schedule to incorporate learning opportunities with your children.
When you think about all the routine activities that happen throughout your day—from waking up and getting dressed to paying bills to picking up groceries or even walking the dog—there are multiple opportunities to sprinkle in teachable moments daily. Katie Sue Pillsbury, teacher at The Gardner School of Franklin, says, “The daily routine is a wonderful way to discuss colors and shapes or to even dialogue with children about the weather. It often creates those ‘lightbulb’ moments that help concepts really click and make sense.”
Many families spend a lot of time in the car, traveling about to and from daily activities. Through conversations or even songs on the radio, there are multiple ways to point out new things to learn with children while traveling. Some simple ideas could include counting buildings or cars, looking for traffic signs, or even taking note of travel routes and directions.
Whether in the kitchen at home or dining at restaurant, family meal time can foster a plethora of learning opportunities. If cooking or preparing a meal, children can learn simple math and science from sorting and mixing ingredients. At a restaurant, parents can take advantage of the opportunity to teach manners and simple social etiquette.
Bathtime offers a wonderful chance for moms and dads to help children learn about the human body, good health, and proper hygiene. Adding bubbles or fragrances to the bath can be fun way to discuss basic science. Even more, using bath toys like cups and funnels can be a clever way to help children learn about portions while they practice gross motor skills.
A family’s evening routine is an excellent time for learning. From brushing teeth to putting away toys to reading books, families can incorporate learning in a variety of ways. Allowing a child to pick out a book to read helps them learn independence and decision making. Encouraging them to put away toys teaches kids about organization and respect. Angela Alexander, teacher at The Gardner School of Franklin, says, “Students at The Gardner School get the chance to do specific ‘jobs’ or leadership roles each day. These responsibilities help students learn how to be respectful of other, which ultimately helps them do the same at home.” Parents can model the same at home by assigning simple tasks or jobs to children before bed each night.
The Gardner School wants the best for your child, and we also want to help parents and families ease any stress that each day might bring. As always, we hope these tips are of great value to you. Here’s to a lifetime of learning!