We know that your child’s preschool experience will be super-charged by the things you do with them at home. Now, we know what you’re thinking: “I don’t have time! And I’m certainly not a teacher!” But remember, when you do little things every day, they add up to a big impact. Even if it’s just 5 minutes of reading a book together each day, those extra minutes will make all the difference. Please don’t worry about having to teach; we’ll take care of that for you. Here are some simple ways to help your child stay engaged and keep learning at home:
- Make a routine. It can be as simple as “wake up, eat breakfast, get dressed, brush teeth,” or even just “wake up, eat breakfast.” But start with something simple, and stick to it. This teaches kids order and structure.
- Read a book together. Choose one that has pictures and a few words on each page—the more colorful the better! This helps kids learn letters and numbers (even if it feels like it’s just about fun and games!).
- Go for a walk or drive. Take turns pointing out colors when you’re outside (red car! green grass!), shapes and so on.
- Have your child write their name with a pen or pencil.
- Practice counting to ten in different languages.
- Let them play dress up, but have them tell you about the job of the person they are dressing up as.
- Play Together: Take your preschooler to the park or backyard, and encourage them to build a fort with whatever materials they can find—sticks, rocks, blankets, etc. You don’t have to let them play in it.
- Measure their Masterworks: When your preschooler has finished building their fort, ask them how big it is. Then help them measure out squares of string or yarn that match the length and width of their fort. This will also help you keep track of where the fort is.
- Communication Skills: Once you know how big the fort is (and you’ve made sure it’s structurally sound), get inside with your preschooler, but don’t let them see what you’re doing. Let them know that they need to talk to you from outside the fort and tell you how to do something (like which way to turn or what direction to crawl in). This will help develop their communication skills.
- Pretend to be a robot. Have your child tell you what to do.
- Encourage your child to think about how different things feel, taste, sound, and look. For example, “What does sand feel like?”
- Create a Puppet:
Create a puppet and use it in a puppet show, either alone or with a sibling or friend. The best part? All of the materials can be found around the house or at your local dollar store.
Materials needed: 2 paper bags (1 each for their puppet body and head), markers, tape, paper plates, scissors, 4 rubber bands
Step 1: Put your child’s hand inside one of the paper bags so they can write the shape of their hand on it. This will be what they cut out for the face of their puppet.
Step 2: Cut out holes for eyes and a mouth on the hand shape you drew on the bag. Now make colors for your puppet’s face! Draw eyes, eyebrows, a nose and mouth—anything you want!
Step 3: Have your child cut out two circles for hands from another piece of paper. They should glue these onto each side of their puppet’s body.
Step 4: Tape some yarn onto your child’s head shape so they can tie it on later.
- Mealtime Math: Have your child help you measure out ingredients for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Ask your child to count the number of scoops of flour you need to bake a cake.
Together, you and your child can count how many sliced oranges fit into a bowl. Or help your child make up a story that involves the numbers on the measuring cups or spoons.
With your help, your child can hold a measuring cup or spoon and pour in water from a pitcher. Then ask him to tell you how much is in the cup–full, half full, empty?
Practice addition and subtraction by asking your child to add one more spoonful of sugar to the recipe, or take away one spoonful.
- Reading: Before you start the story, ask your child to guess what the title means. As you read, stop every once in a while to ask questions like “What do you think is going to happen next?” or “Why do you think that character did that?” After reading, ask your child to pick his or her favorite part of the story. And don’t forget about the illustrations! Ask your child what he or she thinks is happening in the pictures.
- Writing: Create a dedicated writing center, Keep plenty of paper and art supplies on hand so that your child can write and draw whenever he or she wants to. You may also want to consider setting up a computer with spelling games or word-processing programs so that kids can practice typing their words and sentences and maybe even write them.