Education Begins at Home

By Ginger Henderson

Lovely Baby

As a parent, you are your child’s first teacher. In the first few months of life, you taught your newborn to trust in you for his or her comfort and safety, building the solid foundation necessary for a lifetime of learning. Now that your child is older, the educational possibilities are endless. With the right mindset, your day-to-day routine can become an educational journey, bringing the world of learning to life for your little one.

In the Morning

As you go through your morning routine with your child, take the time to point out things to him or her. The simplest things can be profound in helping your child take in lessons from his or her surroundings.

“What color should you wear today?” you might ask as you carry or guide your child to the closet. For younger toddlers, point to each particular piece of clothing and ask, “Would you like the blue shirt or the green shirt?” Encourage your child to answer with the color he or she prefers. Older toddlers can practice their color skills when you ask, “Can you find a yellow shirt?” or even “Which shirt has stripes?” Count the buttons as you button up your child’s clothing. “One, two, three, four, five. Your shirt has five buttons today. Can you count them for me?”

In the Kitchen

The kitchen abounds with educational possibilities. Try putting a teaching twist on everything you do in your child’s presence.

“Let’s make a sandwich for lunch. Can you find the bread? Good, there it is. What sound do you hear at the beginning of bread? B…b… I wonder what letter makes that sound? Do you see what letter makes that sound?” (Point to the letter b on the package.) “B makes that sound.” Take out one piece of bread. “I have one piece of bread. Is that enough to make your sandwich? No, it’s not, is it? How many pieces of bread do I need to make your sandwich? I need two. I’ll take out one more piece. Now how many pieces do I have? Is that enough to make your sandwich?

Yes!” It is basically down to narrating everything you are doing, which will help boost their vocabulary and learning.

In the Car

If your family is like mine, you spend quite a bit of time in the car. While “screen time” (time spent watching educational videos or playing educational games) is important and effective in teaching skills, you can also make the most of your “unplugged” time by pointing out the colors, numbers and sounds around you. Ask your child to find a red sign or a blue car. Have him or her count the red lights as you drive. Point out letters or numbers on signs. Look for and name the shapes that you see. Listen to songs on the radio and clap out the beat.

In the Bath

Bath time presents a great opportunity for learning. Equip your child with plastic jars and cups. Have him or her experiment by guessing how many cups it will take to fill the jar before filling and counting. Have him or her try filling jars of different widths to see which one can hold more water. Name the parts of the body as you wash your child, and ask him or her to find those parts on you.


Bedtime rituals are deeply loved and looked forward to by children. Consider incorporating a bedtime story into your nightly routine. Research has shown that children who are consistently read to perform better at reading tasks later during school years, and bedtime makes for a wonderful way to end your day together with a relaxing storybook. By instilling this habit in your child, you reinforce the importance of reading and instill a love of literature that your child will carry as he or she grows.

As you read, point out letters or sounds. Pause to ask your child questions such as, “Who is this story about?”, “Where are they?”, “What do you think will happen next?”

By recognizing your role as your child’s first educator, you are taking the important first step in ensuring a successful academic experience for your child in the future. Look closely at the things you experience each and every day with your child, and make the most of every teachable moment that you encounter. In the end you’ll be left with a bright, observant child who possesses a lifelong love of learning.

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