Aug. 29, 2016
One of the biggest challenges in parenting is time management. While juggling work schedules, family obligations, school, daycare, extracurricular activities, and more, it’s easy to see how many parents struggle to find the time to sit down with children to help them in their learning. With an everyday schedule that is pure exhaustion, how do parents find the time to support their kids’ education? Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to build in educational time with your little ones that won’t take too much time out of your day. Try the tips below to support your child’s learning, even on a busy schedule:
1. Plan out and organize your time
Busy lives need a reliable schedule. Surviving each day without a plan is a lot like going to the grocery store without a list. Without a plan or schedule for each day, you will likely forget critical tasks that must get completed day-by-day, and you may spend too much time focusing on something that shouldn’t take that long. Use a planner, calendar, or organizer that can help you manage important tasks, events, and deadlines. Take a look at each month and week, and plan the non-negotiable events first. Then, fill in the rest as you plan out your month, weeks, and days.
2. Create predictable routines to follow every day
Think about what’s important to you. Perhaps you might plan that your family will eat breakfast and/or dinner together each day of the week at a specific time. Maybe you plan to read a bedtime story to your child each night, and set a bedtime at a reliable time. Create a routine for after daycare or school hours that will help your family get through their evenings, and stick to it. Decide ahead of time what your goals are for each day, and plan to achieve those goals day-by-day.
3. Plan to work on small tasks over time
One-on-one time with your child is hard to come by on a busy schedule. A strategy that educators use in the classroom include a technique called “chunking”. This is where teachers organize small bits of information into “chunks” that are more manageable for students. Likewise, in your own home you can “chunk” activities. Plan to work on only one skill for a small amount of time per day. For example, if your preschooler needs extra help learning sight words, counting, and writing letters, don’t do this all at once, and don’t stress that you don’t have enough time. Set aside 15 or 20 minutes per day, and choose one of these skills to review with your child. The next day, choose a different skill to focus on. Over time, repetition from these short bursts of learning will help your child grow.
4. Utilize friends and family members
If your child is being babysat by a family member, provide them with books or educational games that they can use with your child to keep them busy. Babysitters can easily help to support your child’s early education while still having fun watching your kids. Additionally, you can organize a play date with your child’s friends and plan activities that their friends can join in on; provide kids with reading time, educational board, card, or video games that kids can play together and learn while they play together.
5. Don’t forget about downtime
Even on a busy schedule, there’s always downtime on a daily basis. This downtime could be the time spent traveling in a car, sitting in a waiting room for a doctor’s appointment, or it could even be the time it takes you to cook dinner. Use these times to your full advantage! While these examples might not be downtimes for you, it certainly is for your child. During these times, keep your child busy by allowing them the opportunity to play educational games on a smart phone or tablet. There is a multitude of valuable apps available today that can keep your child busy and learning, all while they have fun playing. They can practice critical problem solving skills while you put dinner on the table.
Even on the busiest of schedules, there’s no doubt that there are ways to build in meaningful opportunities to support your child’s early education. While it might seem like quite an impossible task to manage it all, the above strategies will help you to find the time in your hectic day to work in ways to support your little learner.