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Keep kids learning at home during COVID-19

Kids using tablets, Photo Date: November 15, 2014 / (Source: Cropped Photo: verkeorg / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0 / (MGN)
Kids using tablets, Photo Date: November 15, 2014 / (Source: Cropped Photo: verkeorg / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0 / (MGN)
Published: May. 21, 2020 at 12:41 PM EDT
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With many preschools and daycares around the country closed due to COVID-19, parents are worried that their young kids might not be learning the school readiness skills they need.

Right now, parents might be concerned they are not making the grade. They are busy working from home, while balancing childcare duties and supporting their children’s learning. For many in the Latino community, especially those without access to the Internet, finding appropriate resources can be challenging. But social scientists have found that parents may already have the resources they need.

Developmental psychologist Diana Leyva has studied how Latino parents support their preschooler’s math and language skills in their home environment. Leyva asked 210 parents to go pretend shopping with their kids. Parents who provided more math support during the game had children who showed larger gains in math skills by the end of kindergarten. Parents who were less directive, were less likely to take over the task for their child and had children who showed greater reading gains. The findings suggest that providing support and feedback, but also letting your kids’ complete tasks on their own helps them develop math and literacy skills.

Leyva said busy families can build learning into daily activities like setting the table or preparing a meal. She also said, “You can tell them, ‘oh, well, I need three eggs, so can you bring three eggs?’ And so, you're counting. You can also compare, ‘ok, so do we have more rice, or do we have more beans?” Parents can also strengthen language skills at laundry time as Leyva stated, “Any activity or any routine that you do at home can be turned into a learning opportunity, and in a very simple way.”

Leyva also said that games that have kids find words that rhyme and encourage them to tell a story or talk about the best part of their day can help strengthen language skills.

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