From the moment your child is born, you are their teacher.
You teach them to talk, to walk, to use a potty, to wash their hands, to hang up their coat and put their shoes in their place. You teach them how to share, how interact with others, and even how to talk on the phone.
Now that your toddler has become a preschooler – what are they learning? Letters. Shapes. Numbers. Reading. Writing. The focus has shifted to more academics, and for many people – that can be intimidating.
You CAN teach your preschooler.
You’ve already been teaching them. Just keep going! Remember, the most important thing about learning at this stage is to make it fun. Learning should be done because they are eager and excited to – not because we are forcing them to. Turn everything into a game of some sort and it makes their little brains into sponges!
Let’s talk about 5 areas that you can teach your preschooler:
Teaching kids the letters and the sounds they make is an important first step to reading skills.
- Get magnetic letters in both upper and lower case, and challenge your child to make matches with them.
- Write letters on paper and get your child to hop on a letter you call out. When they’ve mastered that, start asking them to jump on letters by their sound instead.
- Make letters out of playdough snakes.
- Allow for a sensory related experience by getting your child to draw letters in salt or sand.
- Go on a shape hunt. Challenge your child to look around the house (or the grocery store, etc) and find things that are all squares, circles, etc. If you give them a paper, get them to draw their findings.
- Cut shapes out of bright coloured paper and make pictures with them. Do the typical square house with triangle roof, but also think outside the box and be free to create anything!
- Count everything. The stairs when you go up or down. The apples that you put into your bag at the store. Toys when you put them away one at a time. Encourage your child to help you. Pause once in a while to see if your child will say the next number.
- Write numbers on paper and get your child to jump on the right one as you call out a number.
- Roll a dice and have your child do an action that many times. For example, if they roll a 5, they need to do 5 Jumping Jacks.
- Make large circles on a piece of paper and use buttons, bread tabs, noodles, etc as counters. Challenge your child to put a specific number of items in the circles. Or, print out numbers on small squares and ask your child to make lines underneath with the right amount of items.
- Read to your child. Use your finger to follow along the words as your read aloud. Pause and let your child “read” words they are familiar with or that the book repeats over and over so it’s easy to fill in.
- Let your child make up their own version of the story, especially the books that they are familiar with.
- Give your child free reign at the library to pick out the books that interest them.
- Review basic words that are commonly found in early reading books. These are called Dolch Sight Words – and are keys to successful reading. Play games and do activities with them to encourage instant recognition.
- Let your child write with a variety of tools – pencils, crayons, markers, dry-erase markers, pens, etc.
- Take your child to an office supply store or toy store and let them pick out a special pencil. Maybe one with their name on it so it’s extra special. Find a matching pencil grip that will help with proper holding of the writing tool.
- Spell out words with magnetic letters on the fridge.
- Write letters to grandparents, special friends, pen pals, etc. If your child is worried about spelling or such, allow them to dictate first and YOU write it on a separate paper so they can copy it.
- Find a subject that your preschooler loves – animals? space? sports? babies? Use that to help them come up with creative ideas and encourage them to write ideas down.
Whether or not your child goes to child care, or school, or stays at home with you – learning from a parent is always a great way to not only help make those lessons stick, but also afford you both a great opportunity to spend quality time together. Just have fun and enjoy these teaching times. You can do it!
Lisa Marie is a busy homeschooling mom with 4 boys (and a baby girl on the way!) She blogs at The Canadian Homeschooler -where she shares resources for her fellow homeschoolers to help them on their journey.