Monday, September 26, 2022

How kids can improve their vocabulary and willingness to learn by making a grocery list and setting the table

Reading, writing and math are often treated as subjects that children learn in school. But as a psychologist who researches how families can support learning at home, I’ve found that children, too, can learn those skills through everyday tasks and chores. One of these chores is food preparation – everything from grocery shopping and cooking to setting the table and enjoying a meal.

Our research shows that this is especially true for Latino families living in the US, many of whom are new to the school system in the US, but for whom family dinners are a central part of the day.

Our study included 248 Latino parents with children in kindergarten. Some parents were given a set of tips described below – how to support children’s language, literacy and math at home while selecting, preparing and eating food. The parents were asked to use these tips for at least one month. Other parents were not given these tips.

Our study found that children whose parents were given these tips had higher vocabulary and greater motivation to learn after one month and five months after using the tips. These children were also better storytellers and were able to control their behavior and pay better attention than children whose parents were not given these tips.

Busy parents especially liked these tips because they were easy to follow and fit into their regular schedule and didn’t require extra work or special materials.

1. Make a Grocery List

Parents can ask their children to write down a grocery list before going food shopping. While older children can use letters and numbers – for example, “2 cereal boxes, 10 bananas,” younger children can be encouraged to draw pictures of items their parents want to buy or Want to use a combination of letters, numbers and pictures.

A 2017 study found that the more parents let their kids try to write and read letters and numbers when making a grocery list, the better the children’s reading and math skills later on.

Once back from the store, parents can ask kids to use their grocery list to see if the parent has purchased everything on the list. It’s a great way for kids to practice writing, reading, and math.

2. Cooking and setting the table

Gathering and mixing ingredients for cooking or setting the table is an opportunity for children to practice math in a playful and familiar way. We found that practicing math with children during these household chores can also increase children’s motivation to learn math.

Ask your child questions like these: Can you get five apples out of the fridge? I added 4 cups of milk and another – how many in total? How many plates and forks do we need today?

3. Tell Stories At Mealtimes

Parents can use family dinners and other meals to encourage children to tell stories about their day. Telling stories about past or future events is a great way to build skills such as vocabulary and story comprehension that require reading.

To motivate children to talk, parents should use a range of questions that require children to answer on their own rather than simply answering “yes” or “no.” For example: Who came to the party with you? where did you go with grandma? why were you scared?

Talking about topics that care about the child can help parents get the kids talking. To keep the child engaged in the conversation, the parent asks “And then what happened?” You can ask follow up questions like. They can repeat what the child says. For example, if the child says, “We went to the park,” the parent might respond with “That’s right, we went to the park!” and “uh-huh,” “oh,” “I didn’t know that” and “really?” Use phrases like to continue the conversation.

4. Use the most convenient language

Parents should feel free to speak in the language they know best. Many parents may feel pressured to speak a language at home – such as English – because it is the language used at school. However, when parents speak in the language they are most familiar with, they are better able to express their thoughts and feelings while preserving their culture. Speaking mother tongue at home is not harmful to children’s studies. When children have a strong foundation in one language – such as Spanish – they can use that knowledge as a building block to learn another language – such as English.

Our research focuses primarily on Latino families, which place a special emphasis on family meals. Latino families eat together more often than families of other races. They are also more likely to involve children in cooking and kitchen chores at home.

However, these tips apply to all families who regularly cook, eat and shop together. And they can help busy parents support their young children’s education at no extra burden or expense.

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This article is republished from – The Conversation – Read the – original article.

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