For most working parents, the first thing you want to do when you get home is play with your kids! And since you've been gone all day, you want the playtime to be fun! With a small bit of effort, through, you can sneak some education into this fun time together.
1) Get creative
Not all games comes in boxes with printed rules and playing cards. With a little creativity, you can create fun games for your child that will develop important skills while your child has fun.
For example, as you're in the kitchen preparing dinner, give your child a bowl of 4 different cereal pieces mixed together and ask him to sort them into back into 4 different bowls. Children love the opportunity to play with their food and you'll love watching your child practice his visual discrimination skills. Or, play “I Spy” where you open a kitchen cabinet and tell your child the first letter of the item you spy. Your child will love hunting around the kitchen as he practices his letter awareness and phonemic awareness skills.
2) Grab 5 minutes
At least in my house, mornings are a rush trying to get everyone out the door and our time at home in the evenings always passes so quickly. But, all you need is 5 minutes to play a quick -- and educational -- game with your child!
For example, playing Simon Says takes only a few minutes and is a great way for your child to practice his auditory processing skills. Or, give your child a pair of scissors and take turns cutting confetti for an imaginary party. These five minutes a day will add up to a lot of learning over the course of each week.
3) Use free printable worksheets
There are many wonderful free kindergarten worksheets available on the web. When searching, rather than just typing in “printable worksheets,” do a focused search for a specific area you think your child would enjoy or a specific area you would like to help your child develop skills in. For example, try searching to “free visual discrimination printable worksheets” or “free phonemic awareness worksheets” or even “free worksheets to help child follow multi-step directions.”
Look for printable worksheets that have vibrant colors and creative pictures. These will likely seem more “fun” than boring black and white worksheets and will help to captivate your child's attention.
4) Turn off the car radio
Short rides in the car like the trip to school or to daycare are a great time to play word games with your child and help him develop important phonemic awareness and auditory processing skills. So instead of listening to the radio or a favorite CD, try taking turns saying words that start with the same letter or works that rhyme with “cat.” Challenge your child to name four words in a row that all start with R, for example, and then suggest a different letter and challenge him to name four words! The activities are endless!