Young mom and local blogger Lauren Horsley (www.supermomcentral.com) shares her recommendations:
Gear Up and Provide the Tools
– because kids are excited and engaged when they get to use cool toys
Lapdesks (Room It Up http://www.roomitup.com) – These darling desks are durable, lightweight and store right under a seat. They’re cushioned on the bottom and have a cup holder for drinks or snacks. Toddlers can color or practice letters/numbers, children can draw scenes they see out the window, older kids can do homework exercises
Backpacks (Room It Up http://www.roomitup.com) – Designate a backpack for the car (minis for your little ones, full-sized to hold older children’s items). Fill the pack with fun educational items that kids can access whenever they’re bored:
• Ring-Bound flashcards (http://www.kidstravelhappy.com) or make your own with a hole punch and ring binders.
• Learning Wheels ((http://www.kidstravelhappy.com)
• Magnetic games
• File Folder games
• Pocket folders with fun work pages inside (I’ve found great worksheets for all ages at http://www.schoolexpress.com)
• Drawing/writing pad with attached pencil (that way, if it gets dropped, you don’t have to pick it up!)
Go Audio – listening is the easiest and most natural form of learning (especially handy when your children are tired or grumpy and not excited about doing an activity)
• Secondary Languages – songs, audio books, and easy lessons (a great place to browse French audio for children is http://www.french-bookworld.com)
• Educational Children’s books – choose educational CD/book sets that teach counting, colors, animals, habitats, basic history lessons, etc. (Barnes and Noble has a wide selection)
• Classical Literature that appeals to children like “Oliver Twist” by Charles Dickens, “Call of the Wild” by Jack London or “The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain. As you listen, pause the CD from time to time and talk about the issues presented in these stories.
• Biographies of famous people – presidents, composers, artists, world leaders, inventors, etc.
***Super Tip! If you can’t find what you want in audio (favorite story or subject you want to teach), record yourself reading aloud!
Play Along – It’s the “Spoonful of Sugar” concept: Learning is more fun when you make it into a game.
• Choose a color and point out everything you see in that color – this can also be done with shapes, numbers, letters.
• Ask your child to find something out their window that begins with “C” and make the letter sound so they correlate it.
• Pick a common object you see alot of on your drive (like stop lights, speed limit signs, or gas stations) and help your child see how many they can count before getting to your destination.
For Preschoolers/Lower Grades:
• Play “taller than” by identifying something you see and challenging your child to point out something “taller, smaller, bigger, longer, softer, harder, higher, lower, faster, slower, louder, quieter” etc.
• Practice simple math by challenging your child to add together the numbers they see on speed limit signs. When they get good at this, work on subtracting the smaller number from the bigger. Then make a game of shouting out “add!” or “subtract!” everytime you seen a new speed limit sign.
For Older Children:
• Spell out favorite words, like names or places, with letters on billboards.
• Have conversations with your child where you spell all your words.
• Play “finish the story” game – begin a story and let your child make up the ending.
For more practical parenting ideas and dialogue, visit Lauren’s blog at