Writing letters, making a shopping list, and sorting out the laundry are all examples of practical tasks that help improve children’s literacy and numeracy skills.
In an article in The Canberra Times, Macquarie University's Institute of Early Childhood Yeshe Colliver said his work with four-year-olds found they were interested in what adults were doing and parents could incorporate that into learning.
He said children learnt how the world worked by watching and copying the people around them. The study found encouraging children to take part in everyday activities such as cooking, setting the table and stacking the dishwasher, could influence children’s spontaneous play and improve learning outcomes.
The Goodstart Early Learning Practice Guide says children’s play can be guided and enhanced by parents who collaborate with children to investigate ideas, such as working out how many plates to put on the table, and challenge their thinking.
Children can learn about measurement, patterns, geometry, data management and representation through everyday tasks.
Raising Children’s Network says encouraging children to do chores can also help make them feel competent and responsible, and can help build family relationships.
Activities parents can try:
- Write a letter or an email. Talk about what your child would like to write in the letter and help them sound out the words and write the letters.
- Make a shopping list. This not only helps children with their literacy skills, it enhances numeracy by helping them think about what needs to be bought and how much will be needed. Putting groceries away can also help them identify patterns by organising which food goes where in the cupboard.
- Setting the table. This helps with numeracy by encouraging children to think about how many place mats, plates, cups and knives and forks are needed.
- Cooking can be a confronting prospect for parents with children aged under five years old but regardless of the mess, it is a great activity for children learning literacy and numeracy.
- Do the dishes. Whether you have a dishwasher or wash up in the sink, having children help by grouping plates and cutlery together is beneficial.
- Sort the laundry. This helps children identify patterns such as finding the same size clothes and putting them together, and matching socks.