There was a time during stay-at-home mom life with 3 toddlers that it was easier to just stay home. There were also many days I secretly wished I could be one of the cool moms driving around all the time sipping an iced tea with kids who could wipe their own butts. All in due time, friends. Taxi Parenting has its own ups and downs, but I want to focus on teachable moments during your chauffeur duties…not the long car rides…the 20 minutes, the 10 minutes, the puzzle piece trips that fill your day.
First, I think “the car line” gets a bad rap. I love the car line. If I am kidless, I crank up my 80s-90s tunes, flip through my smart phone, send silly texts or pictures to my husband/friends (while the car is in “park”), or just stare at the window. Pause. Breathe. Just me. That “me” time is precious and crucial. Sneak it in when you can!
When you taxi around and wait in car lines, be on the lookout for teachable moments which will also pass the time, save some sanity, create some brain synapses, and keep the giggle meter higher than any monkey takeovers.
DISCLAIMER: Reality check. I don’t do this car stuff every time, every day. I throw it in here and there. I tune my kids out too or make them sing Pump Up the Jam with me, like it or not! So, like any teaching ideas you see in cyberspace, tuck them in your brain. But never, ever, ever feel un-super.
Here’s some hot rod learning…
- Predict what time you will arrive somewhere, compare your answer to the real arrival. My son loves to guess when the teachers will come out to the PreK car line to retrieve him. We’ve learned 12:12 is the best guess.
- How many minutes long is this song?
- We’re ordering our drive-thru lunch at 11:50. What time do you think we’ll have it in our car?
- It’s 2:30. See if you can find an animal (ball, certain numbers, letters, orange car, cow, airplane, fill your auto bingo card) by 2:45. Compare actual time to 2:30.
- Rhyme with the Time! “It’s 9:32, let’s tie our shoe.”
- My husband is really good at talking about which direction we are going and referring them to the compass in the rearview. I’m pretty sure, he’s including me in his lessons.
- Right and left turns.
- Hand over the GPS. Let them follow along.
- There’s the obvious weather topics going on outside the car.
- You can also give them a freeze or heat out as you talk about temperature.
- Is it hotter/colder outside or inside? Compare the temperatures.
4. Speed (My backseat drivers love this topic)
- Have them read the signs on the road. Point out speed changes…we were going 35, now we have to go 45. Is that faster or slower?
- Hand over your GPS again and let them watch the car’s speed change. Be prepared for shouts of concern when you are not going exactly the speed posted.
- Establish some “think it don’t say it rules” or a time limit or this one can get annoying.
- Note: Watching the GPS makes some kids sick. Aka…my son.
5. Lines & Ordinal Numbers
- Count what place you are in any car line (car wash, drive-thru, school, stoplight…)
- How many cars are between the red and the black cars?
6. A few more ideas
- Gauges: My husband loves to talk about gauges, design, horsepower, engine stuff, yada-yada-yada. Me, not so much.
- MPG and gas prices. If you’re taking the time to figure that out, talk out loud. Get your kids involved.
- There’s endless “I Spy” Moments driving around…get in those letters, numbers, words
- Radio Station Numbers…More/Less/Higher/Lower
- Here’s a few CD suggestions, beyond the obvious Debbie Gibson’s Out of the Blue and NKOTB’s Greatest Hits.
- Amen to the Quiet Game;)
- My kids love to play “The Opposite Bus”. I say silly things like, “I’m so glad there’s no giggles on The Opposite Bus,” to which they giggle like crazy monkeys. “There’s never any clapping/dancing/ABCs/Counting to 100/sleeping/snoring/swimming…on the opposite bus.” At some point, I assign a different bus driver to give the rules.
Finally, here’s to just talking. About life. I’ve had some of the best talks in the car. Body parts. Marriage. Love. Death. Cemeteries. God. Heaven. Family. Homelessness. Highs. Lows. Mediums. Vanilla Ice.
And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep, Shelisa
Tell me, what teachable moments do you find in the shorter car rides?