Now almost halfway into the school year, many parents of younger children are thinking about what they need to do to get their young children ready for kindergarten in 2019.
Here’s what the experts advise: play, sing, read, and talk with your child about what’s going on around them.
Seriously. It’s not about work sheets, digital learning games or flash cards.
Kids are born learning. From the beginning, they’re absorbing the things that will help them develop in all the important ways (language and literacy, social and emotional, physical and cognitive development).
It’s the simple things that make a difference, like making your grocery trip into a treasure hunt for colors and shapes. Or turning bath time into a silly song about body parts. Even dinner can become a learning opportunity, as your toddler builds math skills by counting orange carrots.
Pediatricians and brain scientists alike agree that everyday activities present easy, fun opportunities for parents to encourage learning. Here are expert-vetted tips for parents, grandparents and caregivers to help turn these everyday moments into learning opportunities:
- Follow the Leader – Exploring is learning, so follow your child's lead. When your child stops to look at a bug, talk together about its colors, shape and activities. Look up the bug online. At the library, choose a bug book. Encourage questions, curiosity and creativity – and have fun!
- Read Everything (Out Loud) – Reading is more than bedtime stories. Read street signs and grocery store labels. Read your favorite childhood book to your infant!
- Narrate Your Life – Explain what you’re doing. Even making a peanut butter & jelly sandwich explains sequencing and nutrition. Think of yourself as a “play-by-play” announcer, helping your child understand the world.
- Ask the Question – Ask questions to encourage thinking and with open ended questions. Instead of “did you have fun at the park?” ask “What did you like about the park today?”
- Gamify It – Make a game of everyday activities. Count spoons while setting the table. Make a blue pile of laundry while sorting clothes. Put groceries away together – making up games about colors and shapes and numbers as you go.
- Build Confidence – Label your child’s feelings, while explaining what behaviors are acceptable. This helps children learn to manage emotions and make choices, while knowing he or she is loved.
To find more tips, tools and resources for kindergarten readiness, visit www.unitedwayck.org/mychildisready.