In the fast past world of our modern educational system, children are learning more and more at a much younger age. For parents, it can sometimes seem like an impossible task to get the kids ready for their schooling experiences, because it seems like they need to know so much at such a young age. It can be really difficult to know exactly how to get your kids ready for preschool and beyond.
But don’t worry, I’m here for you! In this handy-dandy little guide, I’ll explain a few simple steps that you can implement with your babies, toddlers, or preschoolers to better prepare them for the world of education that awaits them.
Communication Is Paramount
From the moment that your baby enters the world, they are learning. Sounds, sights, smells, and sensations are being taken in and categorized by their amazing little brains from the get-go. Little children are basically sponges, ready to soak up any and all knowledge that is passed their way. You need to make sure that you don’t waste these first few years, cause once they grow out of this sponge stage, they are out of it for good.
That is why you need to take the time and talk to your babies all the time. And not in a goo-goo, ga-ga sort of way either. They are people, after all. Very small and very helpless little people, but people nonetheless. The more that you talk to your baby each day, the more they will learn from it. It might take a little while for you to see the results, but they’ll come, I promise!
Read, Read, Read!
If you were to see the inside of my home, you’d probably think I was running an underground library or something! We have four or five bookshelves that are packed to the brim with children’s literature, and not a day goes by that we don’t read at least half a dozen of those books. By reading to your children, even at a very young age, you’ll provide them with the building blocks for their own literacy. You’ll also give them the chance to practice sitting and listening quietly, which is a very important school age skill.
If you take the time and read to your child early and often, you’ll also be planting the seeds of their own literacy. It will start out with a word or two, and then will explode out until they can read independently. Not that they need to be able to read by preschool, but we are in it with these kids for the long haul, after all, so it doesn’t hurt to plan ahead.
Songs are another great way to introduce different concepts to children. Songs can help you to practice shapes, letters, numbers, colors, or anything really. They are also a good way to begin practicing what teachers call “listening comprehension,” which is remembering something that you heard and being able to repeat it. Songs, especially silly and catchy ones, will ingrain themselves in your little one's noggin’ and help them to build up their oral vocabulary.
It’s Never Too Early To Start the ABCs
Whenever my kids were getting their diaper changed, my wife and I would sing the ABCs to them. We never made it a big deal or did flash cards/workbooks with them at all. We would just try and fit it in any time that we had a chance, and by two, the kids had it!
But don’t just focus on the letter names, please! You should take the time to introduce the letter sounds, too. Honestly, after speaking with several teachers on the subject (preschool and kindergarten), it is better that a child knows and understands the sounds that letters say, as this will help them to be a better reader when the time comes.
Make It Fun!
Again, so many parents think that they only way for kids to learn their basics is through workbooks or flashcards and tons of sitting. This is, of course, not at all accurate! For little ones, you should try to keep it as informal as possible. For shapes, talk about the shapes you see in the grocery store. There are tons of squares, circles, rectangles, and triangles all around in the world, and the more you talk about it, the more likely it is that your kid will pick it up.
To practice colors, bust out some paint and let your little one go to town, all while you talk to them about the colors they are using. Before you know it, they’ll start to be able to tell you the color names on their own!
What A Smart Cookie!
Now, these are just a few examples of how you can help your little one prepare for their first schooling experience. Be creative and don’t’ be afraid to find your own fun ways to teach them what they need to know! If you have any tips, suggestions, or questions, please let me know in the comments section below. Have a wonderful day!