Continuing learning when not in the classroom for kindergarten through third grade

Youth development skills are as important to practice out of school as they are in school.

Even when children are not in school, they can continue their development in learning skills. There are many ways parents, or adults can incorporate learning through our daily activities and routines. According to Michigan State University Extension, parents are their children’s first teacher.

Believe it or not, kitchens are a great place to encourage reading skills. Try incorporating sorting skills by having children get silverware out for mealtime and putting them away after they are washed. You can also have then sort dishes by sizes and shapes. A good way to work on number skills, and reading left to right, is by having them read phone numbers from left to right and dialing the numbers, maybe grandma’s. We can work with children to help them learn different shapes using the food we eat or cutting the food into different shapes and talking about it. When we play dress up, or just getting dressed, always name the article of clothing and the body part that it goes on.  You can have your child find hidden letters on the cereal boxes or any writing materials. This will help with letter recognition as well.

We can continue to work on writing skills in a fun and entertaining way. Have your children use sidewalk chalk, or water and a brush, to write words, letters or their name on the sidewalk. Read a short story to your child and stop just before the end and then ask them to finish the story as to what they think the ending will be. Have your child draw pictures, or write, and tell you stories about their pictures they draw. Always have the child sign their name and talk about how they are an artist or an author.

Learning math skills should be made as fun as possible. Have them count the articles of clothing that are put into the washer and have them count them to see if there is the same number when they come out of the dryer. We can play the weighing game with a scale by having the child guess their own weight and then check it out for themselves. Have them weigh other items in the home like waste basket without any objects in them and then again with different objects in the basket; compare the difference. It can also be fun and enjoyable weighing their toys.

Incorporating science in everyday activities can also be done very easily. Using ice is a very simple science project for children. Have them fill up the tray and put it in the freezer. Keep track of how long it takes to freeze. After it is frozen, take it out and make an estimate of how long it will take to melt. We can talk about why the water freezes and melts. Put the cubes in different rooms, or one outside in the sun and one indoors, and then talk about why one melts faster than than the other. At the end have them make their own popsicles with 100% fruit juice and enjoy! We can also talk and demonstrate the concept of floating and sinking. This can be done in a small pool, sink or bathtub. Children are also always fascinated on what makes things grow. Get them involved with tending to flowers, plants or your garden. Discuss what it takes for plants, animals and us to grow. We need to include the importance of water, good nutrition and physical activities to help us develop, grow and learn. Continue to make sure that learning can be fun and children will be more interested.

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