Back-to-school preparations go beyond school clothes purchases and new backpacks filled with school supplies. The Parent Institute, the U.S. Department of Education and the nonprofit Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) have ideas for creating a learning-rich home environment. We combined their ideas into this simple, home learning list to kickstart your child’s literacy and mathematical acuity this school year.
1. Want your children to be good readers? Let them see you read. You might say, “This was my favorite book when I was your age” or “I can’t wait to start my new book.” Once a week on the weekends and let your children stay up as late as they want, as long as they are reading in bed. With young children, try reading to them during bath time. Try holding D-E-A-R times at your house. “DEAR” stands for “Drop Everything and Read.”
2. Cook with your children. Have them use measuring spoons, cups and tools for a hands-on lesson in volume and science vocabulary, like liquids and solids.
3. Have children make a “book” about themselves, with their own illustrations and wording. “A Book About Me” is a great way to help your child see themselves as “somebody.”
4. Help your children discover their roots by talking with family members over the summer. Then ask your children to write that family member a thank you letter and share what they learned.
5. Let kids overhear you praising them to others, particularly about how impressed you are with how they are learning.
6. Encourage children to read biographies about successful people. As children learn about the traits that made others successful, they are often motivated to adopt those same success patterns in their own lives.
7. Motivate your children in math by challenging them to figure out how much change you should get back from a purchase. If they get the amount right, they get to keep the change.
8. Estimating is an important math skill. We estimate how much our groceries will cost and the time it will take to complete projects at work. You can help your child learn to estimate at home. As you’re driving, estimate the distance to your destination and how much time it will take.
9. Talk about geography in terms children can understand: Go through your house and talk about where things came from. For example, a box of cereal may have a Battle Creek, MI address. Tell your children where your ancestors came from and find the places on a map.
10. Show your children that writing is useful. Have them help you write a letter ordering something or asking a question, etc. Then show them the results of your letter.