- Published on Wednesday, 01 August 2012 13:16
Written by Shara Lawrence-Weiss
Recently on Facebook someone asked me, "What will my child need to know for Preschool?"In the state of Arizona, we currently rank 46 in numerous areas including education. According to one recent newspaper article, many of our kids enter Kindergarten completely unprepared. They did not attend Preschool and were not taught basic concepts at home, either. This can certainly be rectified if a little time and attention is given. Even if you cannot afford to send your child to Preschool, you can teach many of the lessons at home.
Here are some of my own tried and true tips to get you going:
Simple things can be done at home to teach your kids. For instance, make sure you have lots of books around and keep them at eye level. In our home, we began reading to the kids from inside the womb. Once born, they were around books from day one. I put books in each room and keep them at eye level so they can easily be picked up, looked at, flipped through, etc. We have multiple bookshelves around and we also stack books next to the TV in the living room. Sometimes I even prop books up and stand them along the entertainment center. My kids go past and pick one up when I do this. It's like an open invitation for them to engage with the story. We make learning a part of our daily routine and count things while we drive, while we shop and more. We talk about colors at the grocery store - pointing out the yellow bananas, green grapes and while milk. I try to make learning a fun part of every-day activities.
We often use photos to teach in our home. I sometimes label photos on the back with specific words: Blue shirt, Green grass, Playing ball, Hugging, Sharing, Snuggling, Sleeping, Family - whatever. This helps my kids identify many concepts with real life images. It works! I laminate my photos so they last longer.
Healthy eating. A child's brain is far better prepared for learning both at home and at school if healthy eating habits are set from day one. Eating unhealthy foods or foods packed with sugar only serves to create behavior struggles, sleepy kids (after they crash), grumpy kids and so on. Start teaching healthy eating from day one. This will serve them well once they get to school and need to pay attention to the learning concepts. It also helps them at home, of course.
Sleeping. Get your kids into a regular and healthy sleep routine. Small children do well going to bed by 7 or 8 pm depending on the family schedule. After a good dinner, give a bath or shower and then read to the kids. Say prayers (if your family does this) and give a kiss good-night. I also sing to my kids and ask them, "Is there anything you need to talk to me about before you go to sleep?" End the day on this positive note and encourage your kids to sleep in a healthy pattern. This has life long benefits including Preschool benefits!
Outdoor time. Kids love and need outdoor time. They learn so much by playing outside, exploring nature, watching wildlife, collecting things, watching bugs and more. My kids would live outside if I let them. They love to go for walks, explore, ask questions about nature and animals, jump on our trampoline for exercise, host play dates in our yard and learn...learn...learn... children learn through play. Play is kind of their "job" right now! I also recommend both free play AND structured play. Both have their benefits and neither should be over-looked.
Label your child's toys with masking tape and a pen. "Truck" or "Car" or "Doll" or "Painting." This is a very simple way to help your child learn the words. You can rotate words, too. For a yellow truck you could put "Truck" one day and "Yellow" the next week. This teaches two concepts for one item.
Get down on the ground and play with your child. I can't stress enough how much this helps children learn. Play together, make eye contact and talk about the toys, colors, softness or hardness of the items, numbers and so on. We often count while we play. "Okay, let's put the toys away now!" And then we count as we put things away. "One, two, three, four, five!" We go all the way to one hundred. My eldest son and daughter were both counting to 100 before they entered Kindergarten. My toddler and newborn are still learning (smile).
Do math at home. Kids learn basic math concepts when you bake with them and count with them and talk about the numbers. When I bake with my toddler (he loves it) we measure together and talk about the cups, teaspoons, etc. This is a simple way to get them started with the concepts of measurement!
Social activities. In Preschool children are taught to share, interact, socialize, set up snack tables (which teaches them to follow directions), clean up, etc. You can teach these things at home, too. Set up play dates and encourage your child to get a snack ready with you for everyone to enjoy. Set up fun activities and allow your child to take part in that decision making process. We tell our kids, "The guest is always served first." So when snack time comes around, be sure your child can serve the guest first (teaches kindness and sharing). Then have everyone clean up while you sing a clean-up song. "Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere. Clean up, clean up, everybody do your share."
Singing and dancing. Music is one of the best ways to teach your child. You can download or purchase music from a number of online sites or you can buy CD's at the store/online or you can check them out at your local library for free. Choose CD's with educational undertones: counting, animal sounds, letters, rhyming words, kindness, taking care of our earth and so on. Kids learn to memorize songs (and the concepts) very quickly. One day my daughter (age five) was listening to a CD that taught about animals and the environment. She said, "They sing about so many animals, mom, but they don't sing about the Armadillo. I wonder why." LOL. My kids love putting on CD's (every day) and singing, dancing around and memorizing and words.
There are more things to be learned before and during Preschool like: using child safe scissors to cut, using pens and pencils to write, playing dress up and make-believe, using glue bottles and glue sticks, making arts and crafts, manipulating play-doh and other toys and more. I'm hoping that my list will simply be a starting point for those who want to know more about Preschool readiness.
I also recommend the following resource: Education.com - Preschool Readiness
You'll find that link very informative and full of detailed articles! Enjoy.
Kindergarten humor: "I am NOT staying in the lines right now!"
ABOUT the Author:
Shara Lawrence-Weiss is the owner of Mommy Perks, Personal Child Stories, Early Childhood News and Resources and Kids Perks. She has a background in education, early childhood, preschool work, nanny work, published freelance, marketing and special needs.