Parents can encourage early learners by engaging in fun activities in the home and community environments. Some suggestions are included here. Ask your child’s teacher for more ideas!
LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT,PRE-READING, AND PRE-WRITING
•Visit interesting places such as the library andcommunity playgrounds, and take your child with you when you go to thesupermarket.
•Talk to your child throughout the day andencourage your child to talk to you. Be a good listener.
•Make a game of following directions. Start with a one-step direction, suchas Pick up your shoes and then try atwo-step direction, such as Pick up yourshoes and put them in the box.
•Encourage your child to ask questions.
•Ask your child questions that require more than ayes or no answer.
•In conversation, use the words, up, over, up, down, in, out, behind, onbeside, top, and bottom.
•Make a game using the words, such as Put the ball in the box and Put the cup on the table and then haveyour child give you directions.
•Help your child learn the names of body parts – head, eyes, nose, mouth, ears, hands, feet,shoulders, knees, waist, and hips.
•Encourage your child to make pictures usingcrayons and blank paper.
•Show two pictures or objects and ask your childto name them. Take them away. Ask your child to tell you what he/shesaw. When your child can do twopictures/objects, try three.
•Say three words and ask your child to repeatthem. When he/she can do threewords, increase the number of words.
•Have your child sort objects (silverware, toys, snacks) that are alike and tell you why he/shesorted them that way. Have yourchild sort objects by color, shape, andsize.
•Help your child learn to count by usingobjects. At the supermarket, tellyour child what you are putting in the cart (one melon, two bottles of juice, four cans of peas, etc.).
•Introduce time concepts by using words such as now, later, day, night, today, and tomorrowwhen talking with your child.
•Using books, magazinesand pictures, ask your child to tell you what time of dayhe/she thinks it is (night or day) by looking for clues in the pictures.
•Play with a ball (at least eight inches indiameter) – roll, bounce, throw, catch, and kick the ball.
•Encourage movement to music – jump, run, roll,tumble and dance.
•Encourage your child to cut (with children’sscissors), paste paper or pictures, color with crayons, put simple puzzlestogether, and build with blocks.
BASIC CONCEPT DEVELOPMENT
•Introduce the basic shapes of circle, square, triangle, diamond, oval andrectangle.
•Play a game, saying, find something that is round like a circle, shaped like a square, etc.
•Introduce the basic colors of red, green, blue,orange, purple, black, brown and yellow.
•Use color words when talking with the child –name the colors of food/clothing/toys/etc.
•Introduce number and letter names as you findthem and use them in the natural environment.
•Set aside time for reading each day.
•Start with very short stories. Read slowly enough for good expression.
•Stop and discuss the story, asking questions suchas Why did that happen? and What will happen next?
•Visit the library often; teach responsibility athome by making a special place for library books.
•Reread stories; children love to hear favoritestories again and again.
•Use picture books and have your child tell thestory. Have your child retell astory using puppets or by acting the story out.
SELF-HELP AND SOCIALSKILLS
•Encourage your child to do things forhim/herself, such as putting on coat and other clothing and washinghim/herself.
•Teach your child his/her first and last name.
•Allow your child tohelp with household chores - give your child simple tasks to do dailyand praise him or her for completion.
•Teach your childcooperation skills by playing cooperative games - gamesthat include taking turns, or mutual building with blocks, puzzles, etc.
•Play leader and follower games,such as Farmer in the Dell, Mother May I?, Simon Says, etc
Below are some web sites that may be helpful in promoting communication skills and early literacy skills:
Information about the development of communication, including handouts for parents and early childhood professionals
Reading is fundamental web site - a good resource for suggestions to encourage families to read to children - includes book lists
Includes resources, activities, and developmental screening guidelines for the first three years of life
Web site of the American Speech and Hearing Association
Information regarding developmental screening, including descriptions of tools and a discussion of hearing, autism, and lead screening guidelines
Includes a monthly newsletter with information for parents, educators, and professionals