When my youngest son was the last, lone straggler at home, we had a simple and fun tradition. Right after the older kids left for school each morning, we would snuggle in our comfiest chair with his choice of picture books. Usually I'd read, but as he got older I assigned him to read some sentences and then pages. Then, I'd gather him up and swing him around until we were dizzy.
Reading is one great way to help children learn about our world. Kids are naturally inquisitive creatures. Their curiosity and enthusiasm with learning is something we adults could emulate more in our lives. For parents of preschool-age kids, there are endless daily moments that provide ideal teaching opportunities.
Here is a simple list of ways to make teaching your young child a part of your daily routine.
1. Read together - every day!
The importance of reading to and with your young child can't be overemphasized.
2. Buy letter and number magnets and let your kid decorate your fridge
Ask him to spell his name, his pet's name and the names of family members.
3. Organize a story and craft with other moms and preschoolers
Have an adult read the story aloud, then create a craft that coordinates with the story's theme. Participating in crafts helps young kids learn how to share and handle scissors and glue, preparing them for school.
4. Ask questions
What color is that stop sign? What shape is this plate? Throughout your day, pepper your little one with questions and reward her answers with high fives and hugs.
5. Point to your nose
Make sure your child can point to all of his body parts and understands the correct term for each of them.
6. Visit the zoo
Help your child learn to identify zoo and farm animals and what sounds they make.
7. Name it!
Teach your kiddo his name, his parents' first and last names, and his phone number and address.
8. Practice the phonic sounds of the alphabet
9. Practice counting to 100
Give your child a jar of pennies or a bowl of dry cereal to count.
10. Teach your child about money
Ask her to identify the pennies, nickels, dimes, etc.
11. Practice writing his name
Make it fun by using different mediums, like paint, chalk, markers, etc.
12. Clean up!
Teach your child to be responsible for putting her own things away.
13. Talk about healthy and unhealthy food and drink choices
Put this into terms your child can understand: Asparagus will make your hair shiny, or too much soda can turn your teeth brown.
14. Teach your child about 911
Teach her how to make an emergency phone call, and when such a call would be necessary.
15. Talk about stranger danger
Discuss what should your child do if he gets lost, and in other potential crisis situations.
The key to teaching kids is to make learning fun. Offer heaps of praise, positive feedback and rewards (50 pushes on the swing for reading five books). Hold plenty of play dates for your child to adjust to sharing and getting along with other kids.
Typically, you only have your little one at home with you for a few years. Take advantage of this precious time to inspire him and lay a strong groundwork for his education.