Any parent that leaves education to schools is doing a massive disservice to their kids. Children learn all the time and it makes good sense to make use of the time spent with your kids to teach them new skills or ways of thinking or even just how to relate what is around them.
With that in mind, here are a few ways to sneak in some education from this month's Parent & Child:
1. Hangman - teaches alphabet and spelling.
2. Destination Game - Choose a place and add words that sound like it. "I went to California and saw cows, cranes, coasters and castles."
3. What's the Total? - Have your kids guess the total of restaurant checks and grocery bills.
4. Tongue Twisters - Strengthens articulation and speech skills.
5. Dominoes - Numbers and problem solving.
There are actually six ways but I kind of think the sixth way in the magazine is semi-bogus (give your child a digital recorder and have them narrate their day). I guess I'll add my own sixth way to stealth teach your kids.
6. Ask your kid to tell you about his artwork and listen (i.e. don't interrupt) to his response.
There are other ways that I try to get my kids to think when we are spending time together. Like making up songs, trying to figure out why something is the way it is (why do trees grow upwards?) or making up stories together.
Something I heard a while ago that still sticks with me has to do with reading to your kids. Did you know that what you read is much less important than the fact that you do "read"? In fact, a study showed that illiterate parents who made up a story while looking at pictures in a book with their kids were able to impart the same educational value as reading the actual story. It is the interaction, the concentration and the time together that delivers the value. Read together even if you can't read this. Crazy.