With the school year winding down, you may be wondering how to keep your child intellectually engaged this summer — especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. While workbooks and online programs are always a great idea, your everyday household chores can also double high-quality learning experiences. Best of all, they won’t cost you anything except time and patience. Here are ten household tasks that can be used as learning opportunities for toddlers and elementary school children.
- Cooking: Food preparation can offer a variety of learning opportunities depending on the age of the child. For infants and toddlers, food preparation can assist with language development as caretakers can narrate their actions as they cook. When children are slightly older, parents may want to begin teaching basic culinary concepts.
- Tidying spaces: Tidying up the house and putting away toys can provide learning opportunities for children as young as 14 months of age who are learning to follow simple commands and instructions. For older children, cleaning up their rooms and common areas can help to reinforce organizational skills that will come in handy during schooling years and beyond.
- Cleaning: Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces offer the perfect opportunity for parents and caregivers to teach children about preventing the spread of germs and illness. In addition to lending itself as a helpful lesson in science, having children assist in cleaning up around the house is also the best way to teach children how to be good housekeepers, which will be a much-needed skill once they start daunting.
- Putting away groceries: Storing groceries after a trip to the supermarket can be a helpful learning experience for both toddlers and older children. For toddlers, it’s a wonderful opportunity to review counting, sorting, and colors. For bigger kids, putting away groceries with a little guidance from caretakers can help to sharpen their organizational skills.
- Plant care: Watering plants is a favorite when it comes to classroom jobs and household chores for children. Not only does this task provide children with a crash course in science and the environment, but it also teaches them to care for living things. To kick things up a notch, asking bigger kids to make predictions about the plant’s growth and what may happen if you forget to water it.
- Paying bills: School-aged children may benefit from sitting down with you as you review your monthly budget and pay bills. Witnessing this process will help even kindergarteners to grasp the basics of budgeting and money management. Additionally, this is a great opportunity to begin teaching children about wants vs. needs.
- Laundry: For preschool-aged children, the sorting of laundry is a good time to review colors. Laundry sorting is also a helpful life skill that children can grasp fairly quickly and once they’re proficient, it can save you a ton of time in the long run.
- Grocery shopping: Allowing the kids to tag along with you when you shop for groceries offers an abundance of learning opportunities. It’s the perfect time to have conversations about nutrition, a balanced diet, and the food groups. It can also teach children about real-world costs and sticking to a budget.
- Dusting: For younger children, dusting and wiping down surfaces around the house is the perfect time to review shapes and teach geometric concepts. Whether you choose to challenge your toddler to name the shapes as you dust each item or send your elementary schooler on a geometric scavenger hunt, turning this mundane task into a learning opportunity will be fun and memorable for both you and your child.