For me, Passover is one of the busiest times of the year. In addition to the never-ending litany of to-do list items in my parent world, preparations for this spring holiday adds an additional slew of time consuming tasks starting with spring cleaning. I diligently scrub a year’s worth of leavened bread crumbs out from every corner of my house. This job has gotten infinitely more complex now that I am a mom to two boys. How in the world did Trader Joe’s Cheddar Rockets end up scattered throughout the bookcase? Not to mention, if you have ever attempted to clean with your children in the same vicinity, you will know that it’s basically an exercise in futility. As I am cleaning, my children are perpetually behind me creating more messes.
The best way to involve the kids in the cleanup process is to get them to think that they are helping you, even though you are sending them to a different location. I developed a learning scavenger hunt. This fun challenge gives me a few minutes of alone time and keeps the kids occupied with learning outside of the room. I challenge them to find items that start with a particular letter. I tell the kids to go to the toy area (Let me clarify, not the toy area that extends throughout the house, the designated toy area) and find something that starts with the letter ‘B’. A few minutes later (yes, sadly this will only buy you a few minutes at a time… but take what you can get, right?) two little guys return with a book and deflated old balloon. Next challenge, put the book in the newly decrackered bookcase and put the balloon in the garbage. Then I move on to the next letter challenge and continue as long as we can keep the momentum going.
Learning Scavenger hunts allow the kids to feel part of the cleaning process and helps work on alphabet letters and sounds at the same time. While it is not critical for your children to be reading before they enter kindergarten, it is critical that they have all of the pre-reading skills in place so that they are ready to learn how to read. Understanding that sounds are represented by letters and letters make up words is a mandatory skill that needs to be solidly in place before reading can occur. In this learning scavenger hunt, it doesn’t really matter if your children don’t know all or even any of their letter sounds yet. Whatever items they bring back to you can turn into a small discussion about letters and sounds that will eventually lead to reading. “Great! You found a truck. Truck start with the sound ‘t’ and starts with the letter ‘T’. Now look for something that starts with the sound ‘b’ like baby or ball.”
About Koala Coach
For the past twenty years, a common thread among my special education students who have made the most academic progress has been parents who were actively engaged at reinforcing learning at home. However, as a mom of two young boys, I know that it’s not easy for parents to find the time for anything, including working on reading and math skills with my children. And that the precious time parents do have with their children doesn’t need to be spent drilling multiplication tables and vocabulary words.
I founded the company Koala Coach, to teach parents how to integrate simple, playful learning environments into busy schedules. My method, the Pouch Approach, was inspired by nature’s design of the koala’s pouch: a system that allows a parent to care for a child’s needs while going about daily activity. My goal with Koala Coach is to make parenting easier and help children achieve success in school as confident, engaged learners. The Koala Coach web site demonstrates creative, original activities for subscribers through short teaching videos and idea write ups. The activities prepare parents to integrate simple, playful learning into a family’s busy schedule.
I hope this article helped you to see how you can prepare for Passover with your children while working on reading skills all at the same time!
Parenting before Passover is a busy time of year that can be filled with learning, laughter and love!
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This post was originally published on the MazalTogether blog.