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Make Learning Applicable

Updated: Sep 29, 2020

When you were young, did you ever ask a teacher or parent why you need to learn (fill in the relevant subject) because you’re never going to use it? The question is probably still being asked by students today and for a very good reason. None of us likes to put forth wasted effort on useless exercises! If we can understand the application of a particular skill, in terms that relate to our wants and needs, we will be much more likely to put forth the effort to master the skill, right? Learning how to play a game or sport; learning how to drive a car—these have very clearly understood payoffs. Learning math facts or sight words generally have less obvious payoffs. Therefore, parents and teachers need to highlight the payoffs—or reasons for learning a skill—to children. Below are a couple of examples of activities that you can tailor to your child’s interests and needs, along with the skills involved in carrying out each one. For more ideas, contact me at info@keepingkidsengaged.com.

Skills: Reading & Math

Give your child his/her own grocery list, consisting of a subgroup of your list, when you go shopping. Write those items on your child’s list that can be read with minimal effort to minimize frustration and increase a sense of accomplishment on your child’s part. This will illustrate a practical use for reading, and it will keep your child engaged during the shopping experience. He/she will have an important job to do—just like mom/dad. Better yet, if your store provides them, let your child push his/her own miniature grocery cart! Include the prices of the items on your child’s list so he/she can add them up. Again, make sure it is at the child’s ability level. Provide whole numbers for younger kids and decimals for older kids. To practice subtraction, ask your child to compare prices of two items to see how much money could be saved by buying the cheaper one. Also, ask your child how much change you should receive back if you should pay by cash (a rare thing these days!).

Skills: Budgeting (includes reading and math)

If your child wants a pet, have the child develop a budget for purchasing and keeping the pet. What items must be purchased prior to getting the pet, and how much will they cost? How much will the pet cost? How often will food/bedding have to be replaced, and at what cost? Will the animal need to be taken to the vet for well checks? How much will that cost? Will there be grooming costs? Show your child how to set up a spreadsheet and track all of these costs. If applicable, will the child be able to take care of the pet on his/her allowance, alone?


These are just a couple of examples of how you can illustrate the relevance of various school subjects in everyday life. Many more can be created and adjusted as your child's skills and interests increase! Again, if you would like for me to develop some specific activities for your child(ren), contact me at info@keepingkidsengaged.com.

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