When we talk about learning reading and writing skills, most people think about school, but child psychologists find that household tasks and chores can also be instrumental in helping children practice literacy and math.
Researcher Diana Leyva emphasizes that these tasks are particularly beneficial in Latino families where family dinners are central to the day and parents may be new or unfamiliar with US school systems. In a study, Leyva and her colleagues found that students who helped make grocery lists, set the table, and tell stories at mealtime had larger vocabularies and more motivation to learn.
Making grocery lists
A 2017 study found that children who helped parents write out grocery lists had stronger reading and math skills. Parents can do this by dictating the list for kids to write or, for younger children, by allowing children to draw the items a parent is dictating. Once back from the store, parents can have children double check that they got everything on the list. If kids are coming shopping with you, have them practice their reading by telling you what’s on the list.
Setting the table
Setting the table is a classic children’s chore, but it can also be great for mastering math. Ask younger children to set the table for four guests or ask them to fold five napkins. They can also help you prep meals by finding the ingredients for you in the pantry or fridge.
Use familiar language
The researchers note that while household chores are a good way to master language and math, these can happen in any language to be beneficial. Speaking in a native language actually helps children by serving as a building block to learning other languages.
Source study: Society for Research in Child Development – A strengths-based, culturally responsive family intervention improves Latino kindergarteners’ vocabulary and approaches to learning