Hands-On Learning: Best 4 Ways to Find Time to Work With Your Child

You know you need to spend time working with your child.

You’ve even gone so far as to schedule it into your calendar. Somehow, though, life steps in, and by the time you’ve cleaned up the Cheerios on the rug and the mess made by the 3 year old in the bathroom (who couldn’t read the “we aim to please-please aim too please” sign), the day is over, and you’re dead tired.

Another day has passed, and you feel like kicking yourself: how are you supposed to teach your child and deal with life too?

Fortunately, with a bit of planning, you don’t have to make the choice between working with your child, and tackling the never-ending stack of laundry. By following these 4 tips, you’ll have plenty of time to work with your child, and keep up with the rest of life’s demands.

1) Think of every moment as a teachable opportunity.

A lot of parents assume teaching your child means sitting at the table with a basketful of materials. That’s a big mistake. Sure, learning can and does take place during these sessions, but why ignore the literally hundreds of opportunities a day your child has to practice his skills?

A pile of laundry is a great chance for your child to practice numerous skills.

  • Sorting: Have your child dig out her clothing from the pile. Then have her sort out the socks, pants, shirts, etc. into baskets or piles on her bed.
  • Fine Motor Skills: Letting your child practice folding towels and pants will not only help improve his fine motor coordination, but will strengthen his motor memory as well.
  • Listening Skills: When you tell your child where to put the clothing away, she must interpret and carefully execute what you say. Use one step directions in the beginning, gradually building up to 2 step and then 3 step instructions.

2) Know what your child’s goals are.

If you keep track of what skills you want your child to accomplish, you’ll have an easier time incorporating learning time into your daily routine.

Write down 2 or 3 simple goals in a place where you are likely to see them several times a day, and keep looking at them. Doing this will make it easier for you to remember what you’re doing, so that you can stick it into your day to day activities.

3.) Involve the whole family.

When I was teaching my foster daughter colors, I wrote the names of the colors on index cards, and put them up on the refrigerator. I also colored a section of the index card with the appropriate color.

Then I told everyone-husband, kids, and friends, that we were working on the colors red and blue. When my oldest daughter made a strawberry jelly sandwich for lunch for my foster daughter, she pointed out the color.

When we chose clothing in the morning, she pointed to all the clothing that had blue in it. When my 7 year old supervised toy clean up, he told her to pick up only the red clicks.

4. Be proud of what you accomplish. I sometimes have to remind myself to be happy with whatever I accomplish that day. Moms have a tendency to feel guilty about the fact that they could have accomplished so much more, if x,y, and z hadn’t occurred.

Don’t do this. It’s not only not counter-productive, it’s simply not true. Just tell yourself out loud that you did the best you could today, and pat yourself on the back for what you did accomplish. And if you didn’t do anything, don’t let that stop you from trying again tomorrow.