If you're a parent, chances are you'd love to incorporate more learning into your child's life. If you're a parent like me, chances are, the demands of work and life in general can leave you so drained, even reading a storybook at the end of the day becomes a challenge!
Fortunately, with a little creativity, it is possible to keep our kids engaged and teach them a thing or two, without emptying out our own energy tanks. Here are five ways:
Elevate the game "I spy" to a Phonics Challenge
Effort Level: 1
"I spy" is a great game that encourages observational and language skills. And all you need is a pair of eyes. I love to play the game on long car rides but you could play it anywhere really - at home, looking out of a window, in a waiting room... it is a simple way of flipping what could be a boring situation or landscape into a fun and exciting challenge.
For children over 3 years, "I spy" can also be used to teach letter sounds. Let's say you see a book in the room. You could say, "I spy something that begins with the letter B. Alternatively, you could emphasise the letter sound and say, "I spy something that begins with (make the sound of B)" So simple, it's genius.
Effort Level: 2
Using everyday items, teach your child to measure. How many apples high is her favourite teddy bear, for example? Or how many Legos wide is the sofa? I like how this activity not only preps pre-schoolers for math but also challenges them to see the world in relation to something different each time.
Anything Goes Sensory Bags
Effort Level: 3
Sensory Bags are wonderlands of textures, shapes and colours and are great for stimulating sensorial play while keeping kids entertained for a precious few minutes or more!. While there are loads of DIY ideas on the Internet that cater to every spectrum of craftiness, I am of the persuasion that almost anything could go into a ziplock bag filled with coloured hair gel!
Which is why I now make it a point to pick up - I mean, upcycle - any interesting bits and bobs I come across during my Monday to Friday work week. A stray button here, a paperclip there..throw 'em in together with some bottom drawer stickers, stars or forgotten toys and badges from yore, and voila! You've just bagged a couple of weekend sensory bags that will give you a few minutes of precious quiet time.
Effort Level: 2
Kids are copy cats. So why not turn their love for imitating into little brain boosters? Kick a session off with a basic pattern of sounds, like finger snaps, hand claps or thigh slaps. Your child has to repeat the pattern. Build up the level of difficulty by adding on more sounds to the pattern. It's a fun way to develop rhythm and memory, and not to mention raise up a few laughs.
Enlist their Help
Effort Level: 0
Getting our kids to help the family or with the chores is a wonderful way to cultivate kindness and independence. But it can be tricky. More often than not, they leave an even bigger mess after. Which is why I try to keep things short and simple. For example, I get my kids to assist their siblings by bringing over each other's diapers, water bottles, shoes, bags, etc. And when motivation is lacking, I like to introduce a little friendly competition. "Let's see if Kor Kor or Mei Mei can put more toys into the bin!" always renders better results than, "For the last time, clean up the toys, will you guys?!"
Charlene is a full-time working mum and author of children's picture book, Extraordinary Eloise. She pens her parenting failures and achievements on her blog muminthewild.com