From bedtime to playtime your child is always learning. Check out these family-time ideas for building their skills -- and your family connections. Want weekly ideas too? Sign up for Bloom Bright and have them sent right to your phone as texts!
Cook dinner with your child. To help her learn, let her jump in as much as possible. Kids can contribute in lots of ways! Cutting herbs with safety scissors, stirring cold ingredients, and measuring salt and flour are all great options. Along the way, talk with your child, “Wow, those chives smell strong!” or “These potatoes are bumpy and covered with dirt! Will you scrub them, please?” Don’t forget to get her involved in tasting the delicious results! “Here, want to taste the soup? Do you think it needs more flavor, or is it just right?”
Do Dinos Wash Their Hands?
You can play with toys to practice health and safety skills. ”Does your dinosaur remember how to wash hands before dinner?” or “How will you make sure your doll stays safe while you cook dinner on the stove?” Pretend playing these ideas lets your child show you what they’ve learned. And you both have fun doing it!
Chef, Pilot or Lion Tamer — You Choose!
Play pretend with your child, and let her lead the way! Encourage her to use of everyday objects in new and creative ways. A kitchen chair and jump rope are perfect for lion taming. Couch cushions make great airplane wings. Your mixing bowls and whisk are must-haves for a kid cooking show. When you provide your child with a variety of materials, you extend their play and help them role play. And you enhance their learning too. So, go ahead and use those props from around the house for fun pretend play.
Let’s Do The Plate Dance!
Give your child two paper plates. Show them how to crash the plates together like cymbols. Then, practice using them in different ways to make different sounds together. Go fast. Go slow. Crash softly. Crash loudly. Ask your little one if they can come up with other ways to use the “cymbals.” Feel free to sing songs at the same time. Or maybe play music and crash the cymbals to the beat.
More and more research show that singing and music have amazing benefits for children — and for adults! It helps build brain connections and impacts emotions. Take time to turn on the radio or stream your favorite tunes. Then, sing along, play music and hum away. Once you have had fun with your favorites, give something new a try. Try music of all different types and styles. Don’t worry if you don’t have the best voice, your sweet little one does not care!
Helping around the house gives your child a link to a bigger purpose. Work with him to develop a list of tasks that he can help with at home. A few good ideas to help you get started: helping to keep his bedroom picked up, setting the table or feeding a family pet. Once he has picked a special job or two, make a chart to track his work. Draw boxes on a sheet of paper to represent how many times the job should be done each week. Let him mark them off each day when the task is complete. Now, the chore and the check-off are both his special tasks!
Map It Out
Looking at and exploring maps can be lots of fun. And that’s true online or on paper. Go online to look at aerial maps of your neighborhood look. The difference in perspective can be really exciting. Paper maps can help us understand where we live, too. Don’t have a map handy? No problem! Make a simple map on paper together with your child. Include your street and a few familiar objects around where you live.
Big Feelings Need Big Words
Using feeling words to describe emotions is an important part of your child’s development. You can help grow this skill by offering words when emotions are strong. “You look like you are feeling frustrated. I imagine you might feel frustrated because you have been trying to get your shoe on and it just won’t go! Would you like help or just a hug?”
Mix And Measure!
Teaching a child measurement is a great time to share the fun of cooking. And you get to sneak in some math learning, as well! Ask your child to grab measuring cups as you read a recipe out loud. “I need two cups of flour. Can you help me find the one-cup measuring cup?” Pause and read the directions again. “Now, how many times will I need to use it?” Then, let him help with dinner tonight. Or maybe a fun treat tomorrow. Cooking together may be messy, but the joy, learning and memories make it well worth the clean-up time! (Oh, and you can do that part together, too!)
Sock Match Up
Once the laundry is clean, sorting and matching socks lets you mix math and chores. Use descriptive language to invite your child to take the lead on sorting. “Can you find all the tiny white socks? They’re for your baby sister.” “Where is the other giant blue-striped sock for Papa?” The job may take a little longer, but it builds your child’s sense of responsibility and sorting skills!
Laundry Sorting Spectacular
Math is everywhere—even in simple chores! While doing laundry at home, have your child help you sort clothes. Use colors to sort into piles. Then, use the results to build math word skills. Ask her, “Which pile has more items? Which pile is bigger, the dark or the light pile?”
Mealtimes Are Math Times!
Make meals more math-focused with conversation starters that build skills. Ask your child, “Do you have more carrots or crackers on your plate?” Then, subtract an item (eating is one great way to subtract healthy foods). Now, work together and count the remaining items. “How many do we have left? Five crackers minus two crackers is three crackers!”
I CAN WORK TOO!
Set up a space in your home where your child can practice writing. Fill a cup with writing tools like pencils, crayons and markers. Then, add stacks of paper in many shapes and sizes. Old newspaper, envelopes, sticky notes and lined paper are all great options. It may look like messy scribbles, but those early writings can be amazing creations!
Don’t limit letter learning to pen and paper. You can combine playing with sand and discovering letters into one game. Write your child’s name on a piece of paper. Then, put the paper in the bottom of a shoe box and cover it with a small amount of sand. Finally, let him “search” for his name. Using multiple senses can boost learning.