How to fit in learning time with older children.
Doing learning activities at home is easy when you have your child at home all day every day. When he starts to have activities outside the home, it can get difficult. When your child is at preschool for half of the day, how do you still have learning activities at home? Should you even worry about having learning time?
I am a mom who enjoys learning time and doing learning activities with my children, so it is something I continued to do each day until the child was in full-day school. Once the child was in school all day, I didn’t try to squeeze in learning activities on school days. We only do them on weekends, school breaks, and summer break. My children love doing these activities even now as they have grown. We do more advanced activities than we did when they were four, of course. This tradition was started young and continues to be a favored way to spend time together. With the nature of full-day school plus other activities, we can really only fit them in on weekends and school breaks.
Until full day school kicks in, however, we are having all the learning fun we can. It is time we can spend together that we both enjoy. It is time I can tailor learning time for my child to his/her specific abilities, interests, and needs. It is time to enhance what is being taught at school. These are all positives.
Just because it is a positive thing doesn’t mean it is easy to do. Here are some ideas of when and how to fit learning time into your day with an older child and what to do in that time.
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When To Fit In Learning Time
Here are some ideas for when to fit in learning time when you have a child in school or preschool. None of these options is inherently better than another. It all depends on your situation, your personality, and your child’s personality. Find what works best for everyone involved.
Learning Time After Preschool/School
If your child has school in the mornings, a great time to do your learning time at home together is after school. We always did that after we ate lunch. Then the learning time can happen before naps, rest time, or any type of playtime gets going.
Learning Time After Nap/Rest Time
Another great time for doing learning activities is after nap or rest time. You can do a learning activity before you start to make dinner. You can even set things up so your child does the activity in the kitchen with you while you make dinner if the activity can be done semi-independently.
Learning Time Before Preschool/School
If your child has school later in the day, like in the afternoon or with a later start time, you can fit in your learning time before school starts. I like to get ready for the day first so we don’t have that hanging over our heads while we have fun and then do a learning activity.
Learning Time After Dinner
Another great option for learning time is after dinner is done. You can do something as a whole family or just have your older child get some one-on-one time with mom or dad. You can alternate each night who it is with.
What to Do for Learning Time
For the preschooler or kindergartener, a great option for what to do for learning time is something that complements what is being done at school. If your child is learning about colors, some color activities might be good. If your child is learning about letters, it might be fun to do some fun letter pages and art. On the flip side, your child might be burnt out on those topics and prefer you choose things different from what is being taught at school.
If there is an area I know my child needs to work on, I will make sure to have activities to help with those. For example, if I know the class does a lot with scissors and my child struggles using scissors, I will plan some cutting activities at home to help my child become independent and capable with scissors.
I like to keep activities fun and of high interest to the child. These are all bonus activities, so I always keep in mind I am enhancing whatever education my child is already getting.
I am ultimately a person who likes variety. Because of that, I typically focus on math skills one day, fine motor skills another day, reading skills another day, gross motor skills a different day, etc. I include letters, sensory, shapes, art, science, and music in the rotation, also. I like to have one main theme for the week and then think of activities to go with them. For example, I will pick penguins for one week then think of penguin math activity, focus on the letter “P”, focus on the colors black and white, do a fun science activity, do gross and fine motor activities to go with penguins, find a song about penguins, etc. You can read more about my process in my post How I Do It: Learning Time.
Valerie, also known as The Babywise Mom, is the mother to four children. She has been blogging on Babywise and general parenting since 2007. She has a degree in technical writing and loves using those skills to help parents be the best parents they can be! Read her book, The Babywise Mom Nap Guide, to get help on sleep from birth through the preschool years. You can also find her writing at Babywise.life, Today Parenting, and Her View From Home. Read more about Valerie and her family on the About page. Follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram for more tips and helps.
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