Often working parents are concerned with the quality of time they spend with their child. Spending “quality time” with your child does not have to be a formal learning experience. Most of the everyday activities you do with your child can be an important learning experience.

To identify some of the learning activities you are doing with your child, let’s look at a few of the learning domains.

GROSS AND SMALL MOTOR SKILLS involve the way children use their large and small muscles. Large muscles are used for activities such as walking, running, and throwing; small muscles are used for drawing, writing, feeding, and dressing.

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT refers to how children interact with other children and adults in their lives. Social skills include sharing, cooperating, and following rules are all vital skills for healthy development.

EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT includes children’s feelings about themselves, their self-esteem, and their ability to express their feelings.

LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT refers to children’s ability to listen, understand, speak, and eventually to read and write.

COGNATIVE OR INTELLECTUAL DEVELOPMENT involves a child’s ability to think, reason, and solve problems. It includes forming concepts, remembering ideas, and recognizing objects.

Children learn from what they observe you doing. They learn from how you talk to them, tone of voice, and vocabulary. Parents are teaching their child every minute of every day. It is important that you recognize how you are helping your child learn in some of the everyday activities you do together. Here are some ways you can encourage learning during a regular activity:


• LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT - talk about their day, ask questions that require more than a “yes” or “no” answer, identify the names of the food you are eating and talk about things that interest your child.

• MATH - Ask how many plates do we need on the table? How many carrots are on your plate? You ate one now how many?

• SCIENCE - Talk about where their food came from.

For example, carrots grow in the ground. You may even suggest that you and your child plant and grow carrots together.

• SOCIAL SKILLS – learning to say please and thank you and not to talk with your mouthful are important social skills to learn.

• SMALL MOTOR DEVELOPMENT – learning how to use their spoon or fork. Learning how to hold their cup with two hands so they don’t spill.

• Learning developmental concepts like patience and learning to share.

For example, your child may have to wait a few minutes for their meal to cool down.

Your child is learning all the time. When you recognize how they are learning through everyday activities you can enhance that learning.

Here are some ways children learn:

• Children learn by moving. They learn how to use their bodies to make things happen. When outside allowing your child the space to just run, jump, climb, and play is ‘quality time’ for you and your child.

• Children learn by exploring their environment. Take a walk with your child. Find caterpillars, leaves, sticks of different shapes and sizes and other interesting thing in nature. Expose your child to many different environments.

• Children learn through play. You don’t need to be engaged with your child every minute you are together. Let your child have opportunities to just play by themself. This helps them to learn to make choices and decisions.

• Make some household chores a playful experience.

For example: When folding laundry let your child match up the socks. Encourage your child and praise him when he has been successful. Make clean up time fun by saying, “Who can find all the red toys and put them in the toy bin?”

• Talk to your child about her experiences, and how she is feeling. Remember to listen to what your child is saying.

• Make your activities age appropriate.

For example, we mentioned matching socks. You may have to break down this activity to smaller steps depending on the child’s age. For example: Finding all the socks in the basket may be the first step before you go on to more complex steps such as identifying all the red ones and matching them.

• When praising your child be specific.

For example, “You did a good job picking up the blocks, you got everyone in the basket.”

• You are fostering your child’s learning every time you hug them. Just being warm and loving to your child enhances their self-esteem. Providing your child with an accepting environment will give them the opportunity to try new things. Your child will feel safe and secure.

• Don’t feel like you have to come up with new ideas and activities all the time to be a good parent. Children learn through repetition. Playing the same game or reading the same book over and over helps your child learn by accumulating experiences and building on what they already know.

Children’s learning is connected to all their life experiences. Everyday routines and experiences are important in teaching opportunities.