Today, I want to continue to discuss family literacy. No doubt, family life has become even more stressful in the face of this pandemic that continues to rear its ugly head. The last thing parents and kids need are more “shoulds” in their life. In this post, I share a few simple ways you can engage in literate activities with your children simply by drawing them into ordinary routines and interests. Literacy can hide in so many enjoyable, engaging ways that are probably already happening in your family. Sometimes we don’t even realize how literacy plays out in our daily lives. Here are two examples:
Cooking with Kids: From toddlers to teens, most kids love to connect in the kitchen with other family members. Believe me, I’m not known for my culinary skills and with a large family, it was often easier to do it myself. In retrospect, I wish I initiated more opportunities to cook and bake with my children when they were young. Now I see that talking, listening, laughing, reading, and socializing are some of the magic ingredients that blend together and create a stew of positive memories that last long after the meal is consumed.
Obviously, reading and following directions is an important literacy skill. Let your child take the lead, reading each step aloud then either doing it on their own or with your help. Beyond this basic task, however, the speaking and listening components are key. Sometimes, a diversionary activity helps a child to open up, share a concern or ask a troubling question. The warmth of the kitchen entices us into sharing not only recipes, but family stories, personal experiences, core beliefs. Here are few book suggestions to help you cook up some great times in the kitchen with your kids…
Amelia Griggs has penned a terrific trio of books based on her personal experiences of cooking with her mom. Most children from ages three to eight would enjoy these rhyming picture books and be excited to follow the recipes. What’s more, Amelia has created two coloring and activity books that feature the same characters and provide fun and learning for kids from three to eight. Cooking along with Bella and Mia is sure to jumpstart fun in your kitchen.
For older kids, I’d recommend one of the many cookbooks on the market specifically designed for young chefs and teens. How-To Cookbook for Teens: 100 Easy recipes to learn the basic by Julee Morrison might provide a good start.
Playing Games: In the midst of our busy lives it’s easy to resort to television or computers when we’re stuck in the house with our children. Games, however, can provide a powerful alternative. Games not only provide an enjoyable way for family members to connect, but also offer a generous dose of strategic thinking, word or number skills, collaboration or competition.
Shortly after the pandemic began in 2020, my husband and I started playing Bananagrams. While we were quarantined for months on end, this became our “go to” activity. We kept the cute banana pouch on our kitchen counter and regularly reached for it after lunch or dinner. The nice thing about this game is that it doesn’t take long and no one has to wait their turn. You basically choose your letters and create your own crossword puzzle. The first one finished wins. Trust me, it’s addictive. There were days when we played six games in a row. This broke the boredom, kept our brains sharp and provided an enjoyable respite during those long days when we could not see our family or friends.
Dust off those old classic games that are living on a shelf and explore the many engaging new ones on the market. With a little effort, you can find games that offer fun for your entire family or those to play with just a few people. I’d recommend Zingo for kids ages four to eight and Upwords for elementary school children if your interested in word games that encourage reading skills. Have fun with your family and sneak in a little literacy while your at it.