Guest Blog: “Create a School-friendly Zone at Home”

With back-to-school literally around the corner, today we have a guest writer on Pensacola with Kids.  Mandy B. Fernandez is a fan, a writer and most importantly a parent of two children trying to get back into the school routine.  Mandy has some great tips for how busy parents (like us) can make their home a more school-friendly zone.  She offers suggestions on how you can incorporate simple learning into your routine not just from August to May but all year long.  Thanks Mandy!  Be sure to read the full story and to check out her site, too.



“Create a School-friendly Zone at Home”

By:  Mandy B. Fernandez
School days are here.   Parents are rushing around in the car, squeezing in after-school activities, helping out with homework and trying to keep up with daily chores.  How does one fit it all in?

I have discovered that the best way to create a school-friendly zone at home is to incorporate learning into everything we do.   Children want to be involved with their parents, especially when they are young.  My two kids are better behaved, happier and more engaged when I involve them in my routine and make our habits educational and fun.

Here are some “school tools” that even busy parents can include into their hectic home life:

Perform math at meal times – Families must eat and meals are the best time to use math skills.  Young children can count forks and napkins as they set the table.  While mom places food onto the plate, children can add the spoonfuls.  As children eat, parents can help them subtract the bites they take.   Older children can multiply or divide the vegetable portions.  Fractions can even be discussed using the cups on the table – sibling’s cup is only 1/3 full and mom’s cup is 1/2 full of liquid.  Even if kids have to eat in the car or on the soccer field sidelines, they can practice math basics to keep their minds sharp.

Write words on the walls – Students have to learn new vocabulary words and practice handwriting.  For once, let kids write on the walls with special markers and erasers.  Encourage children to write a word per day on the mirror as they dress themselves for school.  Have them devise a sentence about the word.  Bathtubs are great avenues for learning too.  Kids can write as they wash themselves using crayons that are meant for tub writing.  Since children write on paper or chalk boards at school, they will enjoy mixing it up at home in these ways.

Find a fact – Children ask a ton of questions about life.  At times it may be difficult, but parents should try not to dismiss their inquisitive nature.  Instead turn their inquiries into a research project.  If a child asks where thunder comes from, write down the question.  Look up the answer and find a book on weather that can explain it.  If time doesn’t permit then place the question into a shoe box or tissue box to investigate later.  Then explore the solution on a weekend.  The study could lead to an experiment or perhaps even a prize-winning history or science project at a school fair.  Develop children’s minds by helping them know more.  Parents may just learn a new thing or two as well.
Simple science experiments – Science can overwhelm some people but children are happy to see even the simplest things work, cultivate or form.  After reading the Dr. Seuss story “Bartholomew and the Oobleck,” my oldest daughter and I made our own Oobleck with friends.  She loved feeling the matter with her hands go from the liquid to solid state as we added more cornstarch and water to the pan.  With today’s social media tools, parents can find hundreds of simple science experiments to make at home.  Use the internet or Pinterest to shape little minds into viewing the world in whole new ways.
Physical Fun – My children may never play on the football team (Note: I have two girls) but we can run like the pigskin guys in our backyard.  We hike, huddle, run fast in place and perform a victory dance when we touch the fence.  Parents and children can re-create physical education at home in many ways — Go for a walk.  Have a relay race in the yard.  Pretend to swim on land.  Skip down the street or gallop under the stars.   Be silly and crawl down the hallway like a bear or other animal.  Arrange bowling pins and a ball for an alley.  The possibilities are endless.  Simply get up and move.  Everyone will sleep better when both physical and mental energy is exhausted.

These are ways that active parents (like me) can spend just a few minutes a day making the home a more school-friendly environment.  Perform these tools all year long so children will always be learning, growing and thriving.



Mandy B. Fernandez is a freelance writer living in Pensacola with her husband and two children.  She has a B.A. in English with a minor in Technical Writing.  Mandy contributes to Gulf Coast Parent News, Natural Child magazine and other publications.  She has written professionally for several companies, organizations and groups.  Mandy is an active member of the Write On! Pensacola writers group. Learn more about her or see samples of her wit and work at