School may be out for the summer, but your child can still benefit from important learning opportunities that pop up each day. Take advantage of one-on-one time with your child and turn the drudgery of everyday errands into an educational experience. Instead of simply focusing on getting through your to-do list, consider ways to make the tasks more meaningful and beneficial to your child by following these helpful tips:
Model responsibility. Show your child that taking care of daily responsibilities—including errands—doesn’t have to be a punishment, says Dr. Laurie Zelinger, a child psychologist and certified school psychologist. For example, when you visit the bank, explain the importance of managing your finances. When you stop at the grocery store, talk about the satisfaction you get from choosing healthy and nutritious foods for your family. A visit to the dry cleaner could result in a conversation about taking good care of your belongings. Keep a cheerful attitude and show your child that errands are a pleasant responsibility—not a chore.
Explore career possibilities. Your child may be years away from settling on a future career path, but it’s not too early to expose him or her to a variety of employment options. As you go about your errands with your child, stop to talk with the bank teller, the pharmacist, and other area business-people about their jobs. Prompt your child to ask questions, such as “What do you like best about your job?” and “Would you recommend your career to someone else?” Encourage your child to ask additional questions; he or she may discover potential interests to explore in the future.
Keep things interesting. Let’s face it—spending the day in the car as you run errands together might get a bit boring for your children. “Keep them interested by giving them their own calculator and neighborhood map so they can direct you to your destination,” says Zelinger. By involving your children in the process of calculating costs or watching for street signs, you’re keeping them engaged and interested in the day’s activities and teaching them valuable lessons in responsibility at the very same time.