|Photo by Peter Galbraith|
You don't have to spend money on preschool or be a seasoned homeschooler for your children to learn about the world around them. You can make your home a place of learning by turning everyday opportunities into chances to teach knowledge and skills.
Why not start with the things kids interact with most? Any toy can become a chance for subtle learning. Pretend to care for stuffed animals to emulate caring for pets; note the shapes, sizes, and colors of toys; try to figure out how some toys work or are made; play with blocks to explain simple physics concepts. There are endless possibilities! Let your child's play guide you.
Board games are easy ways to incorporate math and other academic skills. Chutes and Ladders and Hi Ho Cheery-O! are excellent for counting and introducing addition and subtraction. Uno teaches preschoolers to match numbers and colors, and Candyland is perfect for reviewing colors as well. Matching games are good for teaching word recognition too, not just pictures.
Other home and travel games make great learning opportunities. I Spy teaches children to observe and describe their environment. Hide and Seek helps children practice counting, searching thoroughly, and using their sense of hearing.
Puzzles are fun ways to learn matching, from the simplest illustrations to complex puzzle pieces. They're great for reviewing geography too.
Almost anything can be learned through song, not just the alphabet. Use tunes to common children's songs to teach names, dates, and places--even math!
Books are oceans of knowledge just waiting to be charted. There are so many creative nonfiction books too, making information that can be boring or difficult to understand and remember into fun, attainable, and memorable.
You can find anything online, especially on YouTube: how to make things, how things work, where things come from, what things look and sound like, etc. You can also learn American Sign Language. Don't have Internet or suffer from poor video quality? Borrow or buy educational DVDs, like the popular Signing Time.
Make technology your educational friend with learning games and shows. PBS Kids is a favorite at our house. Even do something as simple as making a password your child's name so he or she has to learn to spell it to use the computer or other device.
Around the House
Use measuring to explain math and cooking to explore science. Teach your children life skills, like doing laundry, cleaning, sewing on a button, budgeting, etc. Plant a garden to watch how things grow and die. Let your children help you fix things (or watch a professional do it). Hang maps, graphs, and charts in the kitchen or bedroom for quick reviewing of knowledge. Play musical instruments (or make your own) and create art together.
Free Community Activities
Go to reading time at the library for social interaction and to discover new books, songs, and themes. Attend free classes, workshops, festivals, markets, parades, museums, and events in your comunity to expose your children to new hobbies and ideas.
Out and About
Count stairs you climb, talk about the weather, find different modes of transportation people use. Make anything into an observation, an explanation, or a game --or a question to explore together if you don't know the answer. Take the time to listen to your children to find out what they are interested in.
What do you use to teach your children at home?