I sit next to Damien (22 months) as he munches on his cereal, while he leisurely names, “Alabama, Mississippi” and points to his highchair-side map.
It’s a typical sight in this house: this particular map is new, but the concept is not.
It’s what I like to call activity attaching.
Attaching learning activities to other, set-in-stone daily routine is what helps things run smoothly around here. We might do sight words before nap time, geography at lunch, literature after bathes.
Some benefits of doing things this way:
- Learning is effortless. Most of the time when we attach two things together, it actually does not take up any extra time. The map at lunchtime, for example, takes absolutely no additional time or effort. We just talk about the map and point out locations while he eats or gets ready to eat.
- I don’t have to carry my materials around, which saves time and mental energy. I just leave the particular materials at the location where we do the activity (for example, cards next to the crib, letters in the tub, map next to the high chair). When we go to do the routine task, the materials are there waiting for us: no searching for them or remembering to take them.
- I don’t exert energy remembering to do the task: I am greeted with the materials when I get to that location, which helps me to remember to do the activity.
- I’m much more likely to be consistent. It is hard to remember all of the things I would like to do with my children. I of course can’t forget lunch time, so therefore I don’t so easily forget lunchtime learning activities.
This one scheduling suggestion is the most valuable piece of advice I have to offer for anyone who is searching for ways to be more efficient and consistent in their activities with their children.
One final word about using this method: start small.
Do not one day wake up and decide that you are going to sneak in 15 different learning activities by attaching them to your daily routines.
Start with just one or two. Do those activities for one week and if you think you have gotten the hang of it, add one more the next week, then one more the next, and after just a few weeks you will be juggling many different things you never thought you could handle.
Do you attach learning activities to your daily routines with your children? If so, I would love to hear your “schedule” in the comments!