If you’re a reader of this blog, you most likely know just how wonderful it feels to personally help your child learn, grow, and make discoveries. Crafting, reading out loud, and just getting down on the floor to play together are all great for early learning. But what happens when busy modern life gets in the way?
We decided to pick the brains of some experts—The Busby family of TLC’s OutDaughtered. Despite having their hands full with America’s only all-female quintuplets (age 2), plus big sister Blayke (age 6), Danielle & Adam Busby are dedicated to helping their kids Learn Through Play Every Day. Danielle Busby shares her top tips here:
1. Set the Stage
Instead of trying to make our older daughter Blayke work on math problems alone, we get out her toy cash register, which she loves. We help her set up a pretend grocery story, and guide the younger girls to play the role of customers. Blayke happily counts the play money and makes change. This is just one example of setting the stage for learning through fun!
We get Blayke excited about learning by reversing roles and letting her play teacher. When doing homework with her, I pretend I don’t know the answers, and ask if she can show me how it’s done. This gets her so motivated! And, with five younger sisters, we take this to a whole new level by setting up a play classroom and letting Blayke teach her sisters everything she’s been learning.
3. Busby Spelling Bee
With five two-year-olds running around, sitting down over a workbook isn’t in the cards! So we introduce the ABCs in a way the girls can touch and feel. I hold up a paper with an ‘A’ on it and then pass around an apple. Then, I’ll blow up a balloon and write a ‘B’ on it with marker. We also like playthings that feature the alphabet, like magnetic letters, blocks, puzzles, and other fun toys that take the ABCs off the page and put them into our girls’ hands.
4. STEMtastic Activities
We try to go beyond ABCs and 123s and keep up with the times by introducing the girls to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Local science museums are a great place to pass a day with all of our busy bodies. It also helps to stock the playroom with toys designed to promote STEM and coding, such as Learning Resources’ Code and Go Mouse, which already has Blayke thinking like a real programmer!
5. Music to Their Ears
Sometimes the best way to get the girls to listen to what we have to say is to sing it! When we do crafts or play games, we always have upbeat music on in the background. Learning Resources has a great Spotify playlist full of kid-friendly tunes that inspire a whole lot of learning.
6. Tasty Ways to Learn
We spend a lot of time trying to get six kids to eat healthy, so we figure we may as well bring learning to the table too! The girls practice counting out the plates, cups, and silverware as we set the table. Plus they love learning about healthy food choices through imaginative activities with Learning Resources’ play food. They have a ton of great options that are fun and durable – perfect for twelve little hands!
7. Gear Up for Learning
We love seeing our kids’ mental gears turn as they have ‘aha’ moments learning new things. One of our favorite toys for sparking interest in STEM is the Learning Resources’ Gears! Gears! Gears! Sets! Blayke loves the Castle Gears in particular. The sets are perfect for mixing, matching, and designing!
8. The Busby Zoo
We love teaching the quints about the world around them. We use jumbo animal sets as a fun way to teach them the names of the animals and their sounds. We give each girl an animal and they get to make its sound, then we switch them around and they have to change the sounds they’re making. It really does sound like a zoo at our house!
9. Busby See, Busby Do
We love to teach by example and encourage the girls to imitate what they see Mom and Dad doing around the house. Cooking, tidying up, and household repairs are all simple tasks that offer real life lessons that add up. Learning Resources New Sprouts Bake It! set, Clean It! set, and Fix It! set offer fun props that give our girls’ imaginative role plays an extra boost.
When life gets busy, remember the Busbys. A small daily spark of learning, presented in a fun way, can make a big difference in keeping your kids engaged, curious, and growing!