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Are you aware that there are some ways to prepare your preschooler for a lifetime of learning? It is true, and they aren’t difficult or intensive. In fact, these are things you may already be doing, you just may not have realized how you are nurturing an amazing thirst for learning within your child.
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I am a big believer in letting kids be kids. Little kids need endless amounts of time to play, imagine, and just putter around with no expectations or goals placed on them. There is so much pressure placed on kids these days, and it seems their performance is being measured long before they even come close to being preschool age.
While I do not believe in forcing children to perform in any way or drilling them in anything that doesn’t interest them, the following suggestions are things I have found my little children do really enjoy being a part of. If they do not like any of these things, by all means, don’t force them into doing these things or pressure them to get these things “right.”
Children have their entire lives ahead of them when their performance will be graded on some sort of scale. Give them the gift of having a childhood that allows them to be free spirited, fun-loving, and creative in their own way.
Use these 10 suggestions as options to offer your child at various times in a no pressure situation. I really think these are things they will love for the most part, and probably many of them are things you are already doing, but these simple things are ways you can lay the groundwork for a lifetime of learning.
- Read. You’ve heard this before from everywhere, but I cannot say it enough, read. Reading to your kids from a young age is essential in developing numerous paths of learning. You can’t read too much.
- Implement prediction skills. You can do this when reading, talking about daily events in your life (what are we going to be doing after lunch?), you can even do this when driving in the car (what color will the stoplight turn after it is red?). Once you begin developing this habit it becomes more natural, and you will fund numerous ways you can ask your child to use prediction skills.
- Talk to your child. A lot. And speak to them using adult language. Obviously don’t use words they can’t comprehend, but don’t talk down to your child. You would really be surprised at what they can understand. With such a busy household, my younger kids are exposed to so much conversation that they use the funniest mouthfuls of words at times – and often in the correct context. It truly is amazing.
- Encourage writing skills. Kids as young as one can color on a paper unassisted. Attempt teach them the correct way to hold a pencil, crayon, or marker. You will have less to undo later.
- Puppet, animal, or action figure play. This really can be a fun time for both of you. It is amazing what your kids will tell you while they are imitating real life in this way.
- Games. Games are great whether board games or card games, young kids can learn to play. HiHo Cherry-O, Chutes and Ladders, Candyland, and Old Maid are favorites around here. Memory is another great one to building memory skills. Only use a few pairs of cards and young children can even manage it when they are only two sometimes.
- Puzzles. Puzzles teach so much. I find that when I have my young kids spend time doing puzzles, they have a love for doing puzzles when they get older, too.
- You can encourage math skills by counting things. Count fingers, toes, items in a book, or grapes on their plate, but whatever you are counting, you are building math skills that will provide them with a solid mathematical foundation. My kids love counting along while someone is baking.
- Manners. Kids can learn basic manners such as to use a napkin, proper utensils, or to speak in a soft voice simply be imitating you. Kids are never too young to learn the fundamentals of manners. Manners are the building blocks for character because manners are focused on making life pleasant for those around you and practicing self control.
- Science and history learning. The easiest way to do this is through books. Reading books about leaves that change color, the changing tides at the beach, or a book about the Pilgrims can teach your children the basics of these concepts. Even the song, “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes, teaches even the youngest child the correct names for body parts.
We all strive to do what we can to encourage learning, and learning doesn’t have to be complicated. Kids learn best within the context of fun when having fun is the primary goal while learning is just a byproduct.
What do your preschoolers love to do?