According to the results of a new survey released Tuesday, most parents across the country want to spend more time helping educate their children. Yet despite their best intentions, Canadian moms and dads are hard-pressed to work educational activities into their childrens' day-to-day routines.

The online survey of 1,000 respondents found most parents across the country want to spend more time helping educate their children.

In fact, 70 per cent said they agree they are their children's best teacher.

But the online poll of more than 1,000 parents found that few can find the time to do so. While 30 per cent find ways to turn daily activities as "inherent learning moments," the president of survey sponsor ABC Life Literacy Canada says the flipside paints a picture of missed opportunities.

"While it's encouraging to see that three in 10 Canadian parents always use grocery shopping, traveling or participation in sport as a learning opportunity, there are still 70 per cent of parents who are missing out on embracing these moments," Margaret Eaton said in a statement released alongside the survey results.

And that, she says, represents the loss of a significant chance to turn otherwise mundane moments into brain-flexing exercise time.

"It's easy to use day-to-day tasks as a way to teach children," she said.

Other highlights from the survey conducted by national pollster Ipsos Reid and released Tuesday include:

  • Literacy extends to the digital realm too, but just 22 per cent of parents use the computer with their kids every day
  • Parents in Quebec and Atlantic Canada are most likely to work regular story-writing time into their kids' routine, with 22 per cent of parents there saying they do so at least once a week
  • Just under half of parents in British Columbia report taking their kids to the library at least once a month, while the majority of parents in Atlantic Canada, Saskatchewan and Manitoba visit the library less than once a month

Looking ahead to national Family Literacy Day on January 27, Eaton suggests Canadian families take the time now to think about exploiting life's everyday learning opportunities.

More than half of Canadian parents rarely or never use bill-paying as a way to teach kids financial literacy, for example. And less than one-in-five parents take laundry time as a chance to teach about colours, matching and measurement.

Yet these are the kinds of activities Eaton says parents should be taking advantage of.

"When travelling in the car, play word-association games with the letters on license plates, or when grocery shopping, try to add up the total before the cashier tells you. Learning can happen anywhere," Eaton said.

The key is making the learning fun, according to suggestions included in the group's online resource: Journey to Learning Passport.

  • Family games nights can be an enjoyable ways to flex mental muscles, particularly if there's a good variety of activities from puzzles to board games.
  • Physical activity counts too, as games like hide-and-seek or tag not only get the blood flowing, but the brain thinking too.
  • Storytime doesn't have to be confined reading, it can involve creating them too. Collaborating on story-telling, for example, encourages imagination and creativity. The particularly ambitious or inspired can then turn those stories into actual books, or maybe a play.

Do you incorporate "learning moments" into your daily life? Let us know by leaving a comment below.