6 ways to make March Madness a family affair

As parents, we get very few opportunities to discuss important topics while they are relevant to our kids. If you haven’t talked about college yet, March Madness is the perfect starting point to educate little minds on the importance of school selection, majors and minors, and extra curricular activities, to name a few. Turn the conversation about college into March Madness banter, and instead of receiving blank stares, you’ll bond and celebrate wins … parenting wins.

Selection Sunday marked the beginning of March Madness. With a little help from RJ White, CEO of the Libertyville Vipers Men’s basketball team and a mama with March Madness in her blood, you can start your own college madness–family style.

Here are six tips to increase family time and teach valuable college information.


Make a list of colleges that your child has visited relatives at, are in close proximity to your home, or are near favorite family destinations. Their selections will also probably be in correlation with their favorite sports teams. After this list is made, see how many of these schools made it to the tournament. Briefly discuss how great it would be to visit them. For example, “Northwestern made the NCAA tournament for the first time in history! We should catch a game next year, the campus is right on Lake Michigan!”


Download the NCAA March Madness app and start selecting your predictions as a family. “Here’s where the fun starts,” White says. “It will be interesting to hear why your child is selecting a certain team. They may actually start educating [you] on colleges!”


As games get under way, you can watch them and check your predictions daily. Use this as family bonding time. Cheer for each other’s predictions and talk about what it would look like being a student there. Are there a student sections in the arenas? Showing school pride is important, and loving your college can indeed start in utero.


Before each game begins, create a “fun facts” cheat sheet. “A did-you-know session is a great way to get kids into the game and the school,” White says. You and your kids can find the school on a map, talk about the climate, the city, and the types of extracurricular activities that would be available there (skiing, climbing, surfing, biking, etc.).


Every student will eventually pick a major in college and during March Madness, you’ll see the major and the year of each player. “Discuss what a major (and a minor) means for their career path, then ask pop quiz questions like, ‘What is Duke’s star player’s current major?’” White says.  “Discuss what it’s like to be a freshman, sophomore, junior and senior,” she adds.


Enjoy. While March Madness can be extremely educational when it comes to discussing college, it is also a great opportunity to bring the family closer. “Put down the phones, close the computer and have quality conversations with your kids,” White says.

Download the March Madness app on your smartphone, or head to or for selections.

How are you creating a family fun atmosphere for March Madness? Let us know! @ChicagoMomGoesSuburban and @ChicagoParent.

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