Employed parents spend a lot of time in the car with their children going from home to child care, to work and back again. This time can be a frustrating hassle or a valuable and enjoyable part of your routing. If you give the kids all of your attention during this time, maybe, just maybe, when you get home they’ll let you relax for a minute of two before you start dinner.
Stay connected with what is happening at Toddle Towne so you can help your children anticipate the events of the day. On the way home, try starting a conversation with leading questions like, “How was the spaghetti today?” or “What did you see on your field trip to the parking lot?” You can also save a little early morning hassle by checking our calendar to see if you need to get that transportation toy ready to take to school tomorrow. Put it in the car now so you don’t forget!
Travel time can be used to enhance learning by pointing out numbers, shapes, and letters found in signs and license plates. With each change in the speed limit have them check to tell you if you need to slow down of go faster. Look out the window and talk! Explain what the service vehicles or repair crews are doing, point out changes in weather and conditions. Count the number of dogs, or red cars, or anything else you see. See how many store signs they can recognize and “read”. Ask them, “Which way will we turn next?” “What kind of a store should we go to to buy milk? Gas? Etc.?” Pick one or two new words each week. Tape them to the dashboard of the car. Use the word with a definition, (That truck is enormous, it is very big.) at least twice a day until you hear them using it in a conversation.
Tell them about your day, explain what you did at work. Explain the function of all of the car’s gauges and dials, let them check to see if you need gas, watch the odometer change and operated the heater of radio. Teach them to be safe passengers and (future) safe drivers by explaining why you stop and why they must use their seatbelts.
If your child is still too young for these activities, hang a mobile in front of the car seat, or tape pictures of single objects they are learning to name, shapes, or colors on the back of the front seat, so they have something to look at. Position a suction mirror on the dash so you can see and talk to your child in the back seat. Sing silly songs. It will increase vocabulary and calm a fussy child. Include the child’s name in made-up songs to familiar tunes. (Where or where is dear little Lauren? Way back there in the back seat!).
Have fun and drive carefully