Your child is about to enter a new phase in her life – preschool! While this is an exciting time for your child, where she will meet new friends, engage in interactive play, and learn important academic foundations, the transition can be a nerve-wrecking one for parents. Your young child is starting school and you want to make sure she is ready. Help your child prepare for preschool with the ideas detailed below.
Learning to organize items and belongings is a key concept that will be emphasized in preschool. Give your child a leg up by helping him develop stronger organizational skills at home. Try creating separate bins for LEGOs, blocks, dolls, cars, and the like. Label each bin with a picture so your child knows which items belong in which bin. Then place a variety of toys that fit the categories of each bin on the floor and have him sort them appropriately. Going forward, have him put his toys in the appropriate bins once he is done playing with them. In doing so, you will help him build key organizational skills while also teaching him to sort objects – another important preschool skill!
Learning to effectively communicate is another important preschool skill. Practice this skill at home with lots of regular oral interaction with your child. When she speaks, be sure to fully listen to what she is saying and try not to interrupt her before she is done articulating her thoughts. Also encourage talking and communicating throughout the day, like after a music class (ask her if she liked a particular class and if so, what she liked about it) or during dinner time (ask her about her favorite part of the day and what was so great about it). Additionally, after you read a book to her ask her to tell you what it was about, then ask her questions about each character, the plot, and her favorite or least favorite parts. You can do the same with television shows or movies. As another communication exercise, try looking through a photo album together and have her tell you who she sees and what they were doing. The more talking and communicating, the better!
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Colors and Shapes
Learning colors and shapes is an important early academic concept for your child to grasp. To teach him colors, start by naming and repeating colors and objects that you see around your house. For instance, you might point to an apple and say “green apple”, then point to a stalk of broccoli and say “green broccoli,” an so on. Stick to one color for a day and throughout that day point to all the green objects you can find both inside and outside your home, and say them aloud to your child. Then the next day pick another color and perform the same exercises, repeating the colors until you feel he has grasped them. You can later have him use crayons or paint to create objects in different colors and say the color aloud as he creates them. The more repetition, the better!
To help your child grasp shapes, try using a multi-sensory approach. For instance, hold his finger in a tray of sand or sugar and help him draw a square, then say the word square aloud. You can then point to various square objects around the house, like a napkin, a square box of cookies, or a square toy. You can even have fun baking cookies and have him use cookie cutters in various shapes to cut out square, circle, and triangle (or other shaped) cookies. You can later go to the supermarket or walk around your neighborhood and have him identify items of different shapes and colors. The key is lots of exposure and practice.
Letters and Numbers
Learning letters and numbers creates a strong foundation for early reading and math skills. For letters, start by singing the alphabet to your child until she grasps it and can sing it on her own. You can also purchase puzzles with letters on them and have her practice putting each letter in its slot as you tell her the name, and read lots of alphabet books to her aloud (there are a ton out there!). When she is ready, you might select one or two letters per week and hang them all around your home on post-its. When she sees the letter, have her tell you its name until she is fully automatic at recognizing it. Eventually you can draw a key picture on each post-it next to or above the letter to help her learn the corresponding sound (like an apple for a), then say aloud “a, apple, /a/” whenever she sees the letter until she eventually grasps the sound. Try the same types of activities with numbers – teach her to count beads or blocks from 1-10, play with number puzzles, and place post-its with numbers all around your house. Exposure and practice is key.
Your child is about to face an exciting rite of passage. Help him ease this transition by trying these activities at home and he will be well on his way to preschool success!
Dr. Emily Levy is the founder of EBL Coaching, a local tutoring program that specializes in one-on-one home and on-site instruction for students in grades pre-K-12. She is also the author of the workbook series Strategies for Study Success and Flags and Stars. To learn more about Emily Levy and EBL Coaching, visit eblcoaching.com!