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Learning is kinda like vegetables, right? Okay, bear with me: They’re both things that are good for your kids—and that your kids sometimes enjoy—but if you label them what they actually are, boom: Suddenly no one wants anything to do with them.

Sneaky caregivers know that you can hide vegetables in places no one will notice them—like macaroni and cheese, pizza or pasta sauce, and smoothies. Can you hide learning in sneaky places, too?

This isn’t just about concealing “educational value” so your kids don’t roll their eyes at you. It’s also about fitting the learning into stuff you’re already doing, because even though it might be very lovely to have 30 minutes to sit down and read or practice math or do a science experiment with your kid...we all know 30 minutes is a little hard to come by.


So here are my favorite places to sneak some reading, math, and science into your everyday activities:


In the kitchen. Bring your kids into the kitchen and encourage them to read the recipes you’re working on. (We have some everyone-friendly meal suggestions if you’re looking.) If you bake, consider either doubling or halving the recipe and making your kids do the math to figure out how much of each ingredient they need now. (Do you want half as many cookies, or twice as many? Seems like no contest, but that’s really a personal call.) Cooking and baking are also great opportunities to talk about science: What’s the boiling point of water? Does adding salt really speed it up, or is that a myth? How do rising agents like baking soda or yeast work? By the way, you don’t have to know the answers to these questions offhand. Encourage your kids to ask questions and find the answers themselves using good old-fashioned Google.


Grocery shopping. Whether you’re shopping online or in person these days, there are opportunities to reinforce early literacy and numeracy with younger kids while you’re doing it. You can ask your child to read labels, find items of certain colors, count out fruits or vegetables, or even help you weigh produce in the store.


Out and about. If you’re putting in car time, turn on a podcast like “But Why,” “Tumble,” or one of these others recommended by Common Sense Media and get all your science questions answered. (Or your kids’ science questions, I mean.) When you’re out for a walk, ask the older kids to read the map and figure out how far you’re going, and encourage the little ones to read street signs and make those important connections between letters and sounds.


During movie night. Okay, not every movie night needs to be an educational one. But if you have any animal or nature lovers in the house, check out Our Planet, which has free episodes available on YouTube right now and makes for pretty extraordinary viewing by any standards.

“This isn’t just about concealing “educational value” so your kids don’t roll their eyes at you. It’s also about fitting the learning into stuff you’re already doing...”

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