Early learning is all about engaging little learners at a critical period of brain development from birth to age five. Nurture, nutrition and engagement all help grow a happy, healthy child. By age five or six is another milestone – Kindergarten! Follow these five activities 2-3 times a week to feel confident your little learner will be ready for Kindergarten! You are your child’s first teacher! Whether you are excited about teaching your little one or nervous, these go-to resources will help make your life at home a lot easier. For more information on age-appropriate developmental milestones, I recommend visiting the Center for Disease Control’s Developmental Milestones website listed on the Resources page.
Select 1-2 books to read aloud for your structured learning time. There are tons of great books out there for young children and you will find some picture book recommendations throughout this website, but ultimately for babies to preschoolers, books should be thought of as tools for conversation. These tools help get parent and child engaged in dialogue that helps your child develop new vocabulary and formulate advanced thoughts, questions and conclusions about the world around them. You do not need to finish each book, and it’s ok for your child to interrupt with related questions. This might be frustrating, but remember that the book is a tool for learning. In fact, you are welcome to interrupt the story as well to ensure your child is following along or to make connections to something else they already know. On the Resources page, you will find two book collections that are great tools for reinforcing alphabet knowledge (AlphaTales) and to explore concepts in science and nature (Cat in the Hat Learning Library Collection).
SONGS or RHYMES
Concept songs and rhymes focus on conceptual knowledge, like shapes, colors, counting, parts of the body, time, etc. Ideally these rhymes incorporate some hand or body movement which helps strengthen your child’s memory of the concept. You can find many of these in the Songs & Rhymes section of this website.
Writing activity time will look different for different ages. A two-year old scribbling and drawing is their way of developing writing skills. Tracing or drawing shapes is the foundation of their ability to write letters later on. A preschooler (3-5 year old) should be able to write their name by the time they enter Kindergarten, so practicing letter tracing and writing will help ensure they are prepared. Keep an eye on how they hold their marker or crayon and gently correct them as needed.
CRAFT or COLORING
Craft time is a great time for you toddler or preschooler to work on fine motor skills, like gluing, positioning small items like wiggly eyes or pom poms, coloring and scissor-cutting. The crafts do not need to be complicated. The more complex they are, the more likely you will be doing most of the work, so pick craft activities that can develop a sense of independence and accomplishment in your little learner. You can find lots of simple craft ideas in the Craft & Play section.
Designating time for active play is not only good for working off some of that limitless energy children seem to have, but it’s also a great opportunity to work on coordination and gross motor skills, like hopping, jumping, skipping, and hand-eye coordination. Find fun and interactive play ideas in the Craft & Play section.