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Raising a Brainiac

Interested in growing your kids’ brains and their love for learning right in the comfort of your own home? Research shows the more learning opportunities kids are given at home, the better they do in school. A great way to give your kids a chance to learn at home is to mix learning with things you already do everyday. The best part is your kids will have a great time and they won’t even realize they’re learning!

Here are some ways to combine learning with everyday activities:

  • Supermarket Sleuth: Turn your local supermarket into a super world of mathematics. The grocery store is the perfect place for number crunching and problem solving. Ask your kids to estimate the total amount of your shopping bill as you shop. See who can get the closest to the actual total. The produce section is a great spot for some per pound approximating. When buying an item that is priced by the pound (like bananas), ask your kids to guesstimate how much the whole bunch will cost. Or, put their skills to the test by offering the challenge of figuring out if one brand of paper towels is a better deal than another. Buying a case of soda? Figure out together how much each can in the case costs.
  • Cookin’ Up Learning: To practice math and reading at the same time, designate your child head chef for a day and place him or her in charge of planning an entire meal for the family. It will start by pouring through cookbooks to find recipes for the meal. After careful reading, he or she will have to inventory the kitchen for ingredients and make a list of the additional things he’ll need. Will the recipe make enough for your family or will it have to be adjusted to make more or less? You can work together in the kitchen to ensure all ingredients are measured properly and all the steps are followed. Younger kids can also help with minor tasks in the kitchen. Or, they can make and decorate menus and placecards for the meal.
  • Travel Teacher: The next time you decide to take a vacation, give your kids the opportunity to try their hand at being a travel agent. Allowing your kids to help plan a family trip can be a great way to enhance math, reading, and even map skills. Give your kids books, pamphlets, and brochures to research potential destinations. When a location is decided, your kids can put together a budget for the travel expenses. How many miles away is the location? How much would gas cost? Will lodging be necessary? With a bit of your help, your kids can plan a fun family getaway within your budget. Plus, they’ll be extra excited about the vacation because of the large part they played in the planning process.
  • Pet Puzzlers: Have a pet dog, cat, or bunny? Let your kids take the lead in caring for the fuzziest member of the family. Make sure to discuss important measurements – how much food does your critter eat each night? Each week? How much does your furball weigh? Is this weight healthy? For some extra fun, help your kids to research your particular type of pet on the internet – you can learn all sorts of fun facts about your friend. By caring for your pet, not only will your child learn important lessons in responsibility, but he’ll develop a sense of pride in his role as caretaker.
  • Calendar Captain: If you’re like most parents, your schedule is probably jam-packed with events and errands. Recruit your children to help plan a special outing like a trip to the movies or the beach – but with a catch! They’ll have to find a place on the family calendar when everyone is available for enough time to go on the field trip. Make sure to allot time for travel and parking, then pencil in the excursion!

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