When measured before the pandemic, Americans’ average one-way commute time was just more than 27 minutes.* As we inch back toward ‘normal,’ we once again find ourselves spending more time in the car. So let’s explore some creative ways to use that almost one hour in the car with our kids every day.

  1. Build Vocabulary. You could argue that your kids learn plenty of new words just listening to Mommy’s commentary about other drivers! But, if you want to be more proactive (and maybe a bit more positive), introduce your kids to the Word of the Day. You can find lists and calendars online that have new words for kids. The Merriam Webster website offers weekly vocabulary lists for children. Introduce a new word in the morning, then, on the way home, ask your kids to use the word of the day in a sentence.
  2. Listen to an audiobook. Introduce chapter books to younger children by listening to an audiobook on your commute. Kids will look forward to settling back into the story. Many audiobooks are available free through Library apps like Libby. Take time to review where you are in the story before you push play.
  3. Alphabet Games. Help your children learn to recognize letters and build vocabulary with these oldies but goodies. Ask your children to find letters of the alphabet in order from signs and license plates. For older children, choose a topic (animals, cities, colors, food, etc.). The first player names something from the category starting with a, the second play names something that starts with b, and so on.
  4. Add-on Story. Tap into your kids’ imagination by starting an add-on story. On the morning drive, use something like this as an opening line: “Stella was going to have the best day ever! She just knew it! She knew it because she was wearing her favorite shoes. As they got to daycare, she saw the silliest thing: a giant blue pig out in front of the building! The pig looked right at her and said… “Pass the story to the child and ask them what the pig said.

And it’s okay some days (it really is) if you just want to hand your child a phone or tablet and headphones so you can have some quiet on the drive.


*2019 US Census Bureau report