Monday, August 2, 2010

Making the Most of Car Time with Your Children

When picking their child up from school or child care, parents often ask “What did you do in school today?” only to be met with a monotone, “Nothing.” Yet that doesn’t always have to be the case. Knowing what to do and expect from your child during these times can help increase their engagement, create opportunities for learning and ease the transition from school to home.

“The most important thing is to know your child’s personality.” said Laura Olson, vice president of education for Kiddie Academy, a national child care and education franchisor. “Are your kids more energetic and talkative in the morning, or do they hit their stride later in the day? Knowing this will allow you do determine how and when to engage them or when they might benefit more from soft music or silence.”

To make the most of your commute time, Olson recommends the following do’s and don’ts:


Do…


Take advantage of learning opportunities. When you are stopped at a red light, count the number of cars that pass by or search for a certain color car. You can also engage your children by having them guess where people in their cars are going, and make up stories based on what they see happening around them.


Pack a snack. If your child has been at school all day, it might be a good idea to bring another snack if you have a longer commute (more than 15 minutes). Something as simple as apple slices and water will help stave off hunger and buy you some time to make dinner once you arrive home.


Make them comfortable. For younger children having something they can snuggle with, such as a favorite blanket or stuffed animal, can help them get comfortable and unwind during the ride.


Have structure. Kids love to know what is coming up next. Stick to a routine whenever possible, and if you do stray from it let them know where you are going and why. This way they will know what to expect.


Don’t…


Force the issue if your child isn’t being talkative. Sometimes children need time to decompress after being around other kids and teachers all day, or like to relax in a calm environment before school.


Always listen to the news. Occasionally playing music that the child likes, such as the Wiggles, Kidz Bop or the Jonas Brothers, can help them chill out after school. If you just can’t bear to listen to their music choices, you can give them headphones but be careful that they don’t have the volume turned up too high which could cause hearing damage.


Just ask, “What did you do today?” Find out from your child’s teachers what they did so you can ask specific questions. Kiddie Academy Child Care Centers provide a sheet for parents at pick-up that outlines what each class did that day. This allows you to move the conversation along and prompt more responses.


Forget to tell them about your day, too. Kids love to know what is going on in your life too: what people you work with, what types of activities are part of your day. This also shows them how to tell stories and helps develop their oral language skills.


For more education and parenting tips, sign up for the Parenting Essentials newsletter at www.kiddieacademy.com/newsletter.


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About Kiddie Academy®


For more than 27 years, Kiddie Academy® has been a leader in education-based child care. The company serves families and their children ages 6 weeks to 12 years old, offering full time care, before- and after-school care and summer camp programs. Kiddie Academy’s proprietary Life Essentials® curriculum, supporting programs, methods, activities and techniques help prepare children for life. Kiddie Academy is accredited by AdvancEd, signifying its commitment to quality education and the highest standards in child care. For more information, visit http://www.kiddieacademy.com/.

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