As money is tight this holiday season, a new online tool may be an attractive option for parents looking for an inexpensive, yet meaningful way to share experiences with their children.

The National Center for Family Literacy developed the interactive tool to show parents ways to transform routine daily activities like meal preparation and bath time into rich learning experiences for their children.

It’s simple. It’s fun. It’s free.

“All parents want to help their children learn,” NCFL Vice President Emily Kirkpatrick said.

“But time and money are often scarce resources that keep parents from doing everything they can for their children. Don’t add new tasks to your long list. Instead, make simple changes to how you do those that will have a big payoff for your child.”

Let your child hear many words—keep your child close by and describe what you are doing. And by helping in small ways, your child learns new words and important skills.

An added bonus is that when involved and receiving your attention, your child is engaged and less likely to misbehave.

A 2008 national poll found that parents put balancing work and family on par with the economic downturn as the source of their greatest day-to-day worries. And those concerns are valid.

Research shows that parents boost children’s reading acquisition, including:

  • Children exposed to more spoken words earlier in life demonstrate richer vocabulary and early acquisition of literacy skills.
  • Learning climate of the home positively impacts children’s school readiness and language skills.
  • The positive way parents interact with their children in the home helps children’s literacy development.

Source: National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL)