5 Ways to Help Kids Boost Learning Outside the Classroom

The last few years have been tough on most of us as we have adapted to schedule changes, work/home life balance, social interaction, and more.  As a parent, I have watched my daughters adjust to online learning, periods of social isolation, too much screen time, and unexpected disruptions to their education due to a lack of bus drivers, substitute school staff, and such.  I have also watched younger students really struggle with reading and math skill development in some chaotic learning environments.  If you have a child who is struggling, there are some ways that you can help boost their learning outside of the classroom without feeling like a homeschooling parent or taking away too much of the child's free time.   Here are five ways to help kids learn outside of the classroom.

Read, Read, Read.  One of the best ways to encourage a love of reading is to read with your children daily.    Research shows the benefits of reading to babies and preschool children long before they can read on their own.  Many schools require nightly reading activities several days a week--but setting aside special story times every day--even during the summer and holiday breaks--makes reading a hobby rather than a homework assignment.  The more words a child sees and hears, the easier phonics-based reading and sight word recognition becomes.    Visit your local library, pick out age-appropriate books and read, read, read.   Using paper books instead of e-readers may offer a slightly different change of pace for our little online learners too!

Play Board Games.  Old school board games like Scrabble, Yahtzee!, Trouble, Monopoly, and Uno help children combine math and literacy practice with a competitive spirit and family fun.  I know it is sometimes hard to pull out a board game after a long day of work, after-school practices, regular homework, and dinner.  However, committing to a couple of rounds of a card game or a single game of Yahtzee! offer time for families to connect, unwind and practice basic math and logic skills.  

Seek Out Educational Games Online.  Even preschool and young elementary-aged kids are computer and tech-savvy.  Use the child's online game interest to sneak in some educational games.  I love finding games that combine problem-solving and logic puzzles while reinforcing language or math skills.  Look for online matching games or color sorting games for younger kids and try games like Daily Crossword and Burn Matches at for older students. I love that the Daily Crossword can be played online or printed for those of us seeking handwriting practice--and it can also be fun for mom and dad too!

Daily Crossword @

Burn Matches slows down the math practice and requires a little more thought and effort than traditional flash card reviews.  

Burn Matches Game at

Head to the Kitchen. Cooking, measuring, reading recipes, and trying new foods offer various educational benefits.  From math and reading skills to science, colors, textures, planning, and problem solving--encouraging the kids to help out in the kitchen gives so many basic education and life skill learning opportunities.  Additionally--you are generally making healthier food choices when cooking at home and making some memories while having some quality family time.  Our cooking with kids section is among our most popular here and on Pinterest too! 

Get the recipe for this Mint Chocolate Twinkie Cake!

Take Educational Field Trips.  This doesn't mean you have to head out to a museum or science center every weekend--almost anything can be educational!  Going to a baseball game gives you the opportunity to talk about averages and percentages--and even geometry, cause and effect and life skills like counting money for popcorn and a soda.  Experiencing the world in person--not through the lens of a cell phone or tablet--allows kids to really relate classroom lessons to the real world. 

There are so many ways to help kids boost their learning outside the classroom that adds to your family time rather than taking away from it!

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