6 Academic Tips for the On-the-Go Mom - MetroFamily Magazine
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6 Academic Tips for the On-the-Go Mom

Brittany Carter-Thomas in her role as founder of Freedom City

by Brittany Carter-Thomas

Reading Time: 4 minutes 

The school year is in full swing, and as a mom, I’m sure you are feeling the heaviness that often comes with that! Hectic schedules, rushing from this event to that event, and so much more. A never ending to-do list with never enough time. And if you’re like me, you’re trying to make sure your kids are prepared for school each day and you are trying your best to “supplement” what they are learning at school to ensure they are progressing at the best pace possible. Whoo, just writing this is overwhelming! But I’m here to tell you it is possible to simplify your routine for “supplementing” your students’ academic support at home.

Many days there is just not enough time to get everything done, so utilizing your commute is crucial. If your family is like mine, we spend quite a bit of time in the car, and it is often filled with laughter, songs and fun, but what would happen if that time became even more intentional. A little more than 6 months ago, my husband and I became the proud foster parents to three children. Going from zero to three kids overnight has definitely been a challenge, but we would not change it for the world! In this short period of time, I have learned some essential tips to ensure my children are academically prepared. Check these out:

  1. Use playing cards in the car to help your children solidify their math facts. For safety, please be sure to have your child say the numbers, instead of trying to use the rearview mirror to see the cards.
    1. 10 More: You can tell your child to add 10 more to each playing card in the stack to help them understand the concept of 10 more.
    2. Multiplication Facts: You can tell your child to multiply all of the playing cards by 2s.
      1. For example, they would go card by card—2 x 2 = 4. 2 x 5 = 10. 2 x 7 = 14. Etc.
    3. Addition: You can have your child pick two cards and add them together.
  2. Practice spelling lists.
    1. For children who are more visual learners, you can purchase a Writing Practice Magic Board or something similar to allow them the space to write down the spelling words as you say them.
    2. For children who are auditory learners, you can have them say the words aloud.
  3. Have your kids read to you.
    1. I know you may be thinking “well they may not get every word correct isn’t that a waste?” The answer is NO. Even though they may mess up words, generally you can use your context clues to determine what word(s) they are struggling with, and practice is practice! You can try to dedicate time on the weekend to sit down with the child and really monitor their reading to ensure they are adequately progressing, but during the week that may be virtually impossible. So, reading in the car is a great alternative! And more importantly, this helps develop a love for reading.
  4. Play audiobooks and ask comprehension questions. Our family absolutely LOVES this! We listen to all kinds of books in the car, and then my husband and I ask questions like this:
    1. What happened in the book?
    2. Who are the main characters in the story?
    3. Where and when does the story take place?
    4. You can pause the audiobook, and ask: What do you think will happen next?
    5. What was your favorite part?
    6. Is there a character you really like? Why?
    7. Is there a character you don’t like? Why?
    8. You can pause the audiobook, and ask: How do you think the story will end?
    9. Can you retell what happened in the story in your own words?
    10. Is there something in the story that surprised you?
  5. Expose your child to different occupations and places. A large part of our vision at Freedom City is exposure because we believe exposure is key to helping students reach their potential.
    1. As a mom on-the-go, you can intentionally point out different places and occupations as you travel. For instance, you can show your kids the Governor’s Mansion as you pass it, and then share about the Governor’s job and duties. You can also show your kids a hospital and talk about the many jobs in the hospital.
  6. Just spend time with your child and re-assure them. I cannot stress enough that even if you do not have time to do any of the other 5 tips, just simply checking-in with your child in the car is more than enough! You can ask them questions or say things like:
    1. How was your day?
      1. If they express something challenging, help them through it.
        1. You can say “tell me why it was challenging?
        2. A follow-up question might be “how did that make you feel?”
        3. Another follow-up question might be “what did you need to overcome that challenge?”
          1. Some kids may not know how to answer this question, so you may have to give them suggestions, but helping them through a challenge is crucial as it builds confidence in them and allows them to truly realize their dreams.
        4. What was the most exciting part of your day?
        5. Give them a compliment.
          1. I love the way you….
          2. I see how you are excelling in….
          3. I am so proud of you for…

Brittany Carter-Thomas is a native of Oklahoma City. She graduated from the University of Oklahoma and earned a Juris Doctorate from Emory University. She has dedicated her life to dismantling barriers and breaking the cycle of generational poverty through academics, confidence, and exposure. Her and husband founded Freedom City, and she serves as the Executive Director. She, her husband, and their three foster children live in Edmond, OK, and they love watching movies and reading books during their spare time.  

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