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Learning on the Go: Simple Activities for the Road

Children’s brains are sponges, constantly working to gain more knowledge, especially in the first five years of life. Children’s brains develop more in those first five years than in any other time. Fascinating, isn’t it?

Learning doesn’t only happen in formal settings, like school or with teachers with specialized training. Learning can (and should) happen all the time. You can support learning through small interactions wherever you are. When children interact with someone they love – the learning experience is much richer and deeper than any computer learning can be.

In this article, the second in a series, our experts provide you with creative ways to teach your child while you’re in the car. Summertime often means more travel and road trips — and more time in the car. Make that time special by following these easy suggestions!

On the Road:

Infant
Sing songs with your baby. The quality of your singing voice doesn’t matter. Hearing you sing is much better for her social, emotional, and literacy development than listening to pre-recorded music or watching a DVD.

Toddler
Make a game out of the other cars around you. Clap your hands or pat your legs every time you pass a blue car, or one with a dog, or a really big truck. Change the movement and what you are looking for to keep the learning going.

Preschool
Who can be the first to find all of the letters in your name in the signs or license plates you see? Take turns naming other letters to look for or words to spell.

School-Age
Make up stories about people in the cars you see around you. Imagine their names, what they do for a living, what they favorite meal might be, and what they like to do in their spare time.

Children are much more likely to learn when it is fun and engaging. So, take advantage of mundane errands and boring wait times to dive into learning with your child.

Learning on the Go: Simple Activities While Shopping

Infantlearning_grocery
Show what you’re buying and name the item as you put it into the cart. Providing children with words, even from infancy, can lay the foundation for future literacy learning.

Toddler
In the fruit and vegetable department, talk about the colors you see. Challenge your child to find the red pepper or green apple. Name a color, and challenge your toddler to point to or name all the other items of that color s/he can see. If s/he doesn’t know the name of one of the fruits or vegetables, provide it. Let your child pick out one new fruit or vegetable to try.

Preschool
At the start of the appropriate aisle, give your child a coupon for an item you want to buy. Challenge your child to find the item that appears on the coupon.

School-Age
Give your child an imaginary amount of money (how much depends on the age of the child). Challenge him/her to pick some items from the store that equal the given amount.