You know exactly what you need to work on with your child, you have all of these activities saved, you are motivated and ready, but something happens each and every single week and you never try those activities. You are not finding time to consistently be able to work with your child and you are just not making any progress towards any learning goals you may have set. Listen, it is completely understandable. Life happens, things get away from you when you are busy. It is not always easy to find the time to work on learning activities or focus on just one activity for a long period. This is why I highly recommend finding activities that are just able to be embedded into your daily life that you don’t necessarily have to plan or think too hard about executing.
While you want activities that flow throughout your day and your schedule, you can still work towards making progress with setting specific times for other activities. Try these 4 tips to help you move forward and support your child the best way you can.
Tip #1: Plan Ahead
This sounds so simple right? Although simple, it can often be hard to achieve , but once done can make a huge difference. Planning ahead can be as simple as saying out loud “This week I am going to teach her a new letter and will work on these 2 activities that I have saved”. While this may work for some, a lot of times that isn’t enough. If you have done that type of planning and found that it has not been enough for you then you need to go a bit further. By further, I mean actually writing it down. What I have found is that I am able to just stick to the plan a lot more when I write things down. Write it down on your wall, write it on a piece of paper and stick it to the fridge or write it on a weekly goal setting sheet. If you need a goal setting sheet I have one right here for you to download. When you write it don’t just write what you plan on working on but write down exactly how you plan on doing it. “I plan on helping my child learn this new letter by introducing it to them through a song, doing a letter find activity and having them build the letter using play-dough. I’m going to do it on Wednesday at 6:30 PM while I have 15 minutes to spare before bath time and I can definitely fit this activity in on that day.” Once you have it written down, post it somewhere and put a reminder on your phone. The more you see it, the more you are reminded of it , the more likely you will be to stick to the plan.
Tip #2- Keep It Simple
Stick to simple activities. Sometimes you’re not able to be consistent because the activities that you are planning are too complicated. If you don’t have 20 minutes to be cutting, laminating and prepping the activity then don’t do it. If you don’t have all the materials and have to run to the store to get all these things you will be less likely to actually do the activity and accomplish learning goals with your child. If you have been struggling with being consistent and actually getting started, the best thing to do is to keep things light and simple. That means doing activities with items that you already have in your home. Find activities that are minimal to low prep or ones that have no prep at all. Make the activity something that your child is already engaged in. For example: you know that they play with blocks usually right before dinner, find 5 or 10 minutes before dinner to actually just join them with the blocks and complete the activity right when they’re using the blocks. If they are learning a new letter, you can build that letter with the blocks, show them the letter, teach them the sound and have them try to replicate the letter just like you with the blocks. All of this could be done in 10 minutes. If you’ve been working on their addition skills, use the blocks and show them a quick addition problem and then you give them two or three more problems to solve all using the blocks. It does not have to be long, it does not have to be complicated, it just has to happen.
Tip #3 – Create The Space
Make sure that you are creating the time and space for all of this to happen and let your child know about it. One thing kids will not do is let you forget. Use that to your advantage. Let your child know “On Wednesday at 5PM we are going to be working on this activity. I want you to remind me in case I forget. We are going to do work on xyz”. This will help them build up their anticipation and can be a helpful reminder. Make the time that you are together a special time, call it special like “Mommy and Lily one-on-one time”. Whatever you want to call it, make it something fun and exciting that your child is looking forward to and that you are looking forward to. This will allow you to have some motivation to actually go through and work on the activity.
Tip #4- Be Intentional
Be intentional when you’re planning, in the goals you’re setting, and the activities that you’re using. If you know that your child is struggling with something, it is better to do an activity specifically focusing on that versus doing any random activity just to do it. As you plan your activity, keep it realistic. If you only have 10 minutes on Wednesday and 5 minutes on Thursday make your activities match the amount of time you have. Don’t try to create more time that you know may add additional stress for completion of the activity. For example, don’t try to push bed time or dinner time to complete the activity if it’ll only cause you more stress later on. You will end up focusing on the stress and disruption instead of the activity and spending the time with your child. Instead, the best thing to do is find gaps in your schedule, decide the times that will work best and plan activities that fit into that time frame.
Making the time and remaining consistent won’t always be easy, but it’s worth it!