This post was sponsored by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central. As usual all opinions are mine. I’m excited to share 5 fun ways to foster early learning in your home.
I know I sound like a broken record, but I love this season of life we are in. Yes, even with the meltdowns, tantrums and timeouts that occur daily, we are having fun with this stage. The kid’s are like sponges and surprise us every day with how much they take in, and we learn a lot along the way too. If you’re new here welcome! We have three kids. Maggie is five years old and in Kindergarten, Mia turned 4 in October and will be entering Pre-School this Fall, and Zeno is turning a year old tomorrow.
Our day’s are full of the question “why?”, lots of curiosity and lots of explaining. Early learning is as simple as letting your child explore the world we live in. It’s about sparking your child’s creative mind, and letting them come up with unique ideas. It’s so fun to watch them soak in information, and that “light bulb moment” is worth the bazillion explanations I have to repeat on a daily basis.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt believes that everyday moments can spark curiosity and stimulate the mind in an instant. These individual moments of curiosity add up to something much bigger – a lifetime of learning.
1. Read to your kids every day. For Kindergarten Maggie’s homework every week night is to read for 20 minutes a day. Her school offers an awesome reading program that you log into from a home device. This is great since it has books that are age appropriate for her! And score also great for Mia, since she’s so close in age to Maggie. We’ve also incorporated reading into our bedtime routine, to ensure we get in some reading everyday. We let each child pick out their own books that range from fiction to non-fiction stories. Now that Maggie can read, it’s fun to listen to her read. We also try and make it to the library a couple times a month. Ours has fun activities in addition to reading with the kids.
Did you know that 61 percent of low-income families have no books at all in their homes for their children? (Reading Literacy in the United States, 1996.) Also in middle-income neighborhoods the ratio of books per child is 13 to 1, in low-income neighborhoods, the ratio is 1 age-appropriate book for every 300 children. (Neuman, Susan B. and David K. Dickinson, ed. Handbook of Early Literacy Research, Volume 2. New York, NY: 2006, p. 31.)
Such sad statistics. Maggie and Mia get books from both grandparents and cousins for their birthdays and Christmas, so we’ve been donating our extras the past couple years. I encourage you to do the same!
Another easy way to get books in the hands of more children is to use the hashtag #SparkAMind. Every time someone uses the hashtag –>#SparkAMind, it will appear on the #SparkAMind mini-site and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will donate a children’s book to an early learning organization to help close the early education gap and prepare children for long-term success in school and in life.
2. Participate in an early learning community. In addition to the library group I mentioned above, play dates with friends is a great opportunity to encourage early learning. Search out mom groups in your area online, or start your own! It can be as simple as you want! Inviting neighborhood families is a great way to get your kid’s involved in early learning in a group setting. The blogging community and social media networks are also great places to check out for early learning resources and fun ideas.
With the hashtag #SparkAMind, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will capture your early learning moments and create a space where everyone can share ideas and find inspiring ways to spark a mind. So not only use the hashtag, but check it out to be inspired!
3. Use technology to your advantage. Finding apps that are beneficial to your child and family can be time consuming. All the ones we use for the kid’s have been referred to us by friends and family. Have you heard of the Curious World app? The Curious World app is an early learning app designed for kids ages 3-7 with over 500 fun and educational games, videos and books! This is another great resource and tool for early learning. Head here for a discounted subscription.
4. Allow your child to take the lead. Just like a lot of things this is easier said than done, but allowing a child to take the lead on learning fun has great rewards! It allows them to actively think for themselves, to use their creative minds! Maggie comes home from school often and mimics her teacher when her and her sister play “school”. Imaginary creative play is so fun to witness! The girl’s love to play dress up, restaurant, store and they take full advantage of having a baby brother. He is like their very own real life baby doll. Yes, allowing them to help with his care tends to take twice as long (at least!), but it’s a win/win in the early learning category. Another fun thing we do is let them pick a special activity at least once a month. They usually pick a trip to somewhere fun, like bumper boats for example. Another area I give them some say in is picking out what they wear, superheros and sometimes princess dresses win out.
5. Make early learning fun, and not a chore for you or the kids! Take a walk! Not only is this great exercise for the whole family, but you never know what you might run into. One day we went a new route and ran into horses. Explore right in your backyard! Lucky for us here in Southern Utah there’s trails to hike and explore that our whole family enjoys. Taking a walk? Turn it into a fun scavenger hunt by seeing how many green things you can find, or any color for that matter. Driving to the grocery store? Point out different traffic signs along the way to get them familiar with them. Colors, numbers and even shapes are easy to point out and talk about. Talking and listening are essential, so just by doing those two things your child can benefit greatly! Not much of a talker, pump up some music! As you can see there’s many things to foster early learning. We love to travel and experience other cultures, and we hope to pass on that passion to our children. It’s fun seeing things through their eyes.
What are some ways you encourage and foster early learning with your kids? Share with us using the hashtag #SparkAMind.