I’m just like any other parent of two little kids. I’m trying to keep up with the day-to-day life, trying to make sure my kids are behaving and doing what they’re supposed to be doing, while simultaneously trying to make sure they are prepared for their futures- both socially and academically. I’m juggling multiple things at once, often with the “help” of two little ones.
I’m the primary parent, the one the kids go to for everything because I’m the parent who spends all day with the kids. That also means that I’m the one primarily responsible for their education and making sure they are prepared academically and socially for kindergarten. During their primary growing years, the years in which their brains grow the most, I’m the one responsible for making sure my kids have a solid, well-rounded foundation for life. But, no pressure. None whatsoever. Right? Yeaaaah. Uh huh. Suuuure….
Easier said than done in today’s world! A world in which we have access to more information than ever. A world in which we’re more connected than ever, but also one in which it’s easier to get caught in the comparison trap and the “needing” to keep up with others. We’re constantly being bombarded with what other people’s kids are doing, at what age, how fast, etc. And, that can be hard to ignore, and difficult to “take with a grain of salt.”
No one wants to be an ineffective or inefficient parent. No one wants to do a disservice to their kids or find out later that they didn’t do enough. But, not every parent is naturally a “teacher,” or someone who has a desire, the time, AND the knowledge to create “lessons” and activities for their little ones. But, we can ALL help our little ones. Even if we’re short on time, we can help our little ones learn. Remember, the world is their classroom. Kids can learn from just about any experience. It’s called magnifying the moment.
So, what exactly is “magnifying the moment”?
It’s maximizing our time with our little ones and seeing learning opportunities and using them to our advantage. It’s taking a moment to pause and explain. Is there something you can show your little one or explain to them? Do it! 🙂 Here are a few examples that we’ve come across recently:
- Pulling weeds (boring!) and looking for bugs. Take a moment to talk about the parts of a plant. Connect it to how our bodies work (we eat to get energy; plants use their roots to get water and nutrients from the soil to grow).
- Cooking: watch the water boil and talk about what happens as water heats up. Check the oven every 3-5 minutes to see the changes as dinner cooks or the cupcakes rise. Cooking scrambled eggs- talk about how the egg whites and yolk blend together and form yellow (so the clear egg whites disappear because the yolk is darker). Then, while you’re scrambling them, talk about how the consistency is changing.
- Driving: Look for letters, colors, count the number of traffic lights (or red lights), categorize vehicles by type (truck, car, etc). Drive with the windows down and talk about what you hear and why. Sweet Pea was really interested in how the rain stopped momentarily when we went under an overpass, so we talked about that.
- Laundry: Oh, how this is probably the worst 7 letter word in the world! But, getting the kids involved with the clean clothes helps me get more laundry done quicker. How? I have them help me sort laundry by person. Sweet Pea is learning how to fold towels. And, however she folds them or her own clothes is fine with me. Sweet Pea is also matching up socks for me. She usually does a pretty good job. Buddy Boy helps with putting stuff here and there (following my directions), but mostly, he’s still relatively uninterested. It’s a good chance to review articles of clothing, colors, compare sizes, maybe body parts (“what part of your body is covered by your pants?”), and so on.
These things don’t take TOO much longer. I’ve actually found that when I involve the kids in what I’m doing, sometimes I end up getting MORE done because I’m not chasing them down to make sure they’re safe and not getting into anything. For example, they looked for bugs and Buddy Boy inspected rocks for 15 minutes while I pulled weeds. I tried to get them to help me with the actual weed pulling, but that failed. But, having them near me made it easier to get more work done because I knew where they were and what they were doing. Plus, we talked about the size of the rocks, where to find the bugs (gross, I know, but it kept Sweet Pea busy), why we were pulling the weeds, but not “those” plants… Stuff like that.
I strongly encourage you to capitalize on what you’re doing, what’s around you, and teach your child(ren) new stuff each time you can. Sure, what you’re teaching them might not be significant to them at their age, but they’re learning new words, which is always good, practicing listening and asking follow up questions, making connections, feeling validated, and much more. They may not be able to show it or say it now, but trust me, it’ll help your little ones in the long run. The more they know, the better off they’ll be.
As as a teacher, it’s fairly obvious which students are actively involved in their households and which ones are not. When children are talked to and included, they’re more capable and able to do things for themselves. They’re more confident, are better problem solvers, more independent, understand and follow directions better, follow routines better, and adjust to school and changes easier. For example, a child who has helped with folding clothes and putting them away sees that it’s the same process each time, so when they go to school, they’re able to anticipate that when the teacher says, “it’s writing time,” that they’ll need their pencil and writing binder. Children who do more at home have more prior knowledge, so they’re more apt to be a leader and looked up to by the other students, even if they’re naturally more reserved or shy. So, please. Go out there and maximize the moments with your child(ren)! What do you have to lose? Nothing, and everything to gain! 🙂