4 ways to make a trip to the café educational for children
I went to get my hair done yesterday by a young family friend of mine. She is 24 years old, extremely good at what she does as a hairdresser and what caught my attention the most was her comment "I always receive such wisdom from you".
This comment made me feel proud as well as got me thinking about sharing my wisdom as a parent, as a unmothered daughter, and as a therapist.
So my goal this month is to share not only my therapy tips, but my parenting tips. So wish me luck.
4 ways to make a trip to the café educational for kids (and ultimately reduce meltdowns).
No parent wants to be sipping a hot coffee while their child is chucking a tantrum. So the tips below make my cafe trips enjoyable and manageable.
1 – Put your phone down
I spend a lot of time at various cafes writing blog content and training material and I see way too many adults and kids sitting at the same table, avoiding eye contact and conversation with each other as they scroll away on their smart devices.
Disconnect from technology for 15 minutes and enjoy conversation and connection with your loved ones. You’ll be surprised the types of conversations you will have with your kids. My conversations typically include questions like ‘why do some grey clouds rain and other grey clouds not rain’, ‘where does coffee come from’, ‘what colour does purple and red make when we mix them together’.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed just thinking about not taking an ipad to the café, just get your coffee in a take away cup and give yourself a timer for 15 minutes. Once you achieve 15 minutes together in the café give yourself a pat on the back for working through your feelings of anxiety and overwhelm.
2 – Talk about the ingredients in your café snack.
My kids love to chat about the tastes that they can sense in their cookies or pancakes. They also enjoy smelling my chai latte and guessing which herbs are contained inside my cup of happiness.
We expand on these conversations by chatting about the processes it takes to bake and decorate pancakes. We then write grocery lists for the ingredients which we would need to buy to make delicious café snacks at home.
3 – Practice maths using a menu
We often have mini competitions about who can find the cheapest product on the menu and who can find the most expensive product on the menu. I also sometimes give my kids a budget of $20 and see how many items they could squeeze in to their pretend $20 budget.
Teaching children about the concept of money is a great math activity. I also encourage money education as I like to promote the value of money to my children.
4 – Practice visual tracking skills using a menu
Visual tracking during reading involves the coordination of moving the eye muscles across the page from left to right, collecting visual information from the letters and words on the page. This visual information is then decoded by the language and memory centres of the brain to help children develop the skill of reading.
My favourite visual tracking activity at the café is encouraging my kids to fine words that start with different letters, or who can find the longest and the shortest words.
The children are practicing their visual tracking skills by scanning across each word on the menu, in search of the mini reading challenges that I have set for them.