Very often, our children are with us because there is nowhere else that they can be while we do these important, yet less than exciting, chores. But if we stop and look and think about what is all around us, we find a myriad of things that can be games and fun and teaching moments jump up to us!
Let me share some of the teaching moments that I discovered and used with my children. The ones I’ll focus on today are those that build visual perception and the visual-auditory link to prepare them for reading and learning.
We have all been through the stage of “are we there yet?”. We have played all the children’s music and stories on the long car journeys and so, we eventually just tell our children to play on their electronic tablet. But there are wonderful teaching moments around every corner! Have you tried any of these games that we found fun?
* “BEETLE-BUG”: In this game, you see who can spot the most green cars (or red…). It is an early-learning game to help children remember the names of colours and to notice that a colour can appear in different shades and tones. It is also very good for developing figure-ground perception. Figure-ground perception is the ability to see the figure against the background. In reading, this is necessary to be able to see the individual letters and words against the background of text.
* When you are turning a corner, let your child shout out which way (“left” or “right”) and put up the correct hand.
* At the traffic lights, you and your child count the number of cars in front of you; compare if there are more red cars, green or white cars.
* Let your child pretend to be a detective or spy who has to remember the registrations of the cars you pass.
* Let him count the number of 6’s (then 4’s…) in each registration number.
Supermarkets are generally high-stress areas for parents with young children. So keep the games simple but fun. I found with my children that adding fun games to the chore of shopping, not only reduced the tedium but they could learn at the same time. I was killing two birds with one stone!
* Ask your child to be your “big helper” and fetch some of the items you need. He never moves away from your side, but you describe the item and he has to see it on the shelf and bring it to you. This not only builds his figure-ground perception; but also helps him develop his listening
* Point out to your child how all the items in the shop are grouped together: vegetables are together, tins are together, meat… . This helps him develop the concept of categorising. This is necessary for later being able to categorise phonics groups. It’s obviously also important for learning maths and developing a good number concept.
* Let him tell you all the things he can see that are triangular in shape (eg: carrots; ice-cream cones…), or circles….
* Play: “Who can remember most of the things I put in the trolley?”. Your child says what he can remember and then he checks to see how many he missed. This builds visual memory
as well as encouraging awareness.
* You and your child each choose 5 letters of the alphabet and see who can find their letters the most often in the labels of the items on the shelves.
Food, fun and love. That's what supper time should be all about. And what better combination for some learning?
* Let your child fold the serviettes into triangles or squares or rectangles. You can even teach some origami using the serviettes. Origami is a great way to develop children’s ability to follow
* Let them sort the cutlery into oval desert spoons and round soup spoons. Large knives and small knives. Setting the table, with the correct cutlery in the correct place builds spatial relations perception as well as categorizing and organisational skills begin to develop.
* Cut some slices of bread into triangles, some into squares, some circles. Ask him which is which and let him explore that cutting the bread into the different shapes does not alter the bread itself.
Playing in the bath is just wonderful fun! Let your child spend extra
time exploring colour, shape, textures and even physics!
* Make the fullest use of coloured face cloths and towels.
* Different shapes and sizes of bottles will hold different amounts of water. Let him explore by pouring from one to another. Let him see how the long, thin bottle can actually hold the same amount of water as the short, fat one.
* Foam letters that stick to the wall when wet, give a great opportunity to practice spelling.
* Foam numbers are great for maths.
* Using the foam 0’s and X’s to play 0’s & X’s on the wall helps to build visual perceptual analysis and planning skills.
* If your child is still young and you still need to wash and dry them, verbalise: “let’s wash you left foot now; and now let’s wash your right arm….”
* Dry your child in front of a full length mirror and when he is dressed, stand next to him in front of the mirror and let him imitate strange postures and faces you pull. It helps him develop body awareness and motor planning. Both of these are important early developmental
Enjoy the "Learning Moments" with your child! Have fun teaching in all the little things you do together!
CLICK HERE TO FIND FUN EASY WAYS TO TEACH YOUR CHILD TO READ