My sister is a professor who teaches future teachers. With everyone’s educational world suddenly changing, the latest assignment for her college students is to find unique ways to get kids to read one hour a day. I know the struggle. While some kids love to sit and read an old school library book, others simply don’t (one of mine!), and that’s where I’m trying to get creative.
I instituted this technique as soon as we started social distancing. I pulled out my cookbooks and had my kids search through recipes for something they wanted to make. There are many benefits here. Not only are the kids reading, but they’re learning to cook/bake, AND there’s math involved–my daughter had to cut her crazy cake/jello recipe in half. Even better, when you’re done with this lesson, dinner’s done too!
We’ve been going for daily walks, and recently, I pointed at houses and had my daughters make up a story to describe the inside, as if they’re a realtor trying to sell it to me. “It has four bedrooms, an updated kitchen, etc.” When we got home, I got online and pulled up actual houses for sale in our area. The girls then read all the information about different homes, and let me ask questions like, “when was it built?” which forced them to look through the details to find answers. My nine-year-old LOVED this activity. In fact, she ended it with a pretend phone call to negotiate a lower price for my favorite house (down $30,000!). Our love of HGTV is finally paying off.
Create a Treasure Hunt
If you’re bored taking regular strolls, you can easily turn them into a treasure hunt. I had each of my daughters create a list of things to look for along a walk–white flower, red car, wreath on a door, and then we assigned points to each object. Take along your list and keep track of what you find. Multitasking at its best here. P.E., reading/writing, and math (add up who got the most points).
Learn About Animals
There are several zoos that have live cams so you can watch the animals anytime you want. We’ve been pulling up a lot of those during the day–everything from penguins to pandas! After we watch a certain animal for a few minutes, I have the kids use books or the computer to look up facts about that animal. Again, not only working on reading, but science/biology as well. I highly recommend having your kids research gross koala facts–seriously, how can something so cute be so disgusting?
Yep, play games. From Quelf JR. to Scrabble, they will be reading cards and learning words without even noticing it’s educational. And bonus–keeping score or moving spaces means you’re also sneaking in math!
If you still have fears that you don’t know what you’re doing as a new “teacher,” let me try to put you at ease. My fourth grader recently finished reading Bridge to Terabithia, so we watched the movie. While I was crying (no spoilers!), she and I ended up laughing uncontrollably at the tiny tissue I was using to wipe tears. She hugged me and said, “see mom, this is what homeschooling is all about–we get to bond together.” And just like that, I knew we could get this right.