PRE-K LANGUAGE ARTS
· Read Every Day
Perhaps the single most important thing you can do at this stage to foster your child’s early reading and writing skills is to read to their every single day. A recent OECD study comparing the role of parents in education in several countries found that the factor that best predicts better reading performance when a child is 15 is whether they were read to during their early years. So read as often as you can to your child, even if just for 20 minutes a day, and do your best to make reading time a fun experience that both of you enjoy.
· Point Out Authors and Illustrators
When you sit down to read a book with your child, start by reading the title and the name of the author and illustrator. This will help to familiarize them with these important attributes of a book. Soon your child may have favorite authors or illustrators, such as Dr. Seuss, and will be able to recognize their work.
· Read the Same Books
Make sure to read the same books to your child over and over again, over extended periods. The better your child gets to know a book, the more ways they will find to enjoy it. During one reading your child may just focus on the pictures. A week later, they may pay more attention to the story itself. A couple months later, they may notice the rhyming patterns of the words or focus on new vocabulary words.
· Make Reading Engaging and Interactive
When you are reading to your pre-kindergartener, make it as engaging and interactive an experience as possible. Pause from time to time to ask questions about what you’ve read so far and what is to come. Ask how they think a character is feeling or what they think will happen next. Make sure your child understands it’s fine if they guess wrong. The fun is in the guessing.
· Discuss Stories
Once you've finished a story, have a little discussion with your child about it. Ask what they liked best about the story, who their favorite character was, and why they did specific things in the story. Learning to talk about what they have read will be an important foundation for the critical thinking skills that will be so important throughout their life.
· Read Non-fiction
Make sure to include non-fiction books in the titles you choose. Pre-kindergarteners are fascinated by the world around them and learn a lot about how it works from non-fiction books. They especially love books about animals (including dinosaurs, of course!), outer space, and trucks and machines.
· Establish Good Reading Habits
Reading skills will always be essential to your child’s academic success, so do everything you can to make sure that they develop good reading habits. It’s especially important that your child sees you and other adults enjoying reading. This will help them view reading in a positive light.
· Use Songs and Lyrics
Reading to your child isn’t the only way to ensure that they become a strong reader as they grow. Singing songs with them and familiarizing them with a range of lyrics also helps develop language skills.
· Make Eye Contact
Make sure that you make eye contact with your child when you speak to him or her. Adults are often so busy sitting at the computer, checking our phones, or doing household chores that we don’t pause and look directly at our children when they’re speaking. Try to stop what you’re doing and give them your attention when they speak to you.
· Fill in the Word
Fill in the word. When reading nursery rhymes, poems, or books with rhyming words, read the verse then let your child “read” by filling in the rhyming word. When reading “Hickory Dickory Dock. The mouse ran up the _____,” pause to let your child fill in the word “clock.” This will come naturally and your child will enjoy helping you read.
· Encourage Writing and Drawing
Encourage your child to write and draw as early as possible. Make sure they have access to crayons and markers. Don’t worry about whether they are holding them correctly at this point. The important thing is that your child learns to love using writing and drawing tools.
· Incorporate Toys
Using playdough and toys that require children to manipulate small shapes will encourage the development of dexterity in their fingers that will be important as they learn to hold a pencil correctly and to write.
· Incorporate Basic Math Concepts
Try to incorporate basic math concepts into everyday activities. Have your child count objects regularly and pose easy counting challenges, such as counting the number of steps on a flight of stairs or the number of red cars you see while driving. Take opportunities to count by twos or fives or tens, for example, if you've bought many of the same item at the grocery store or need to count a pile of coins.
· Practice Shape Recognition
Practice recognition of different shapes. Have your child spot things that are triangular, like pieces of pizza or the roof of a house, or rectangular, like paper money. As you talk about different shapes, have her describe why a shape she spots is a triangle (three sides) or a square (four equal sides) or a rectangle (two opposite equal sides and two other opposite equal sides of longer length).
· Solve Jigsaw Puzzles
Doing puzzles is a great way to develop important visual discrimination skills, or the ability to recognize differences and similarities in shape, form, pattern, size, position, and color.
· Apply Math in Everyday Life
It's especially memorable to children when they can use their new math concepts in their everyday life. Have your child arrange their favorite stuffed animals in a circle for a party and give two or three crackers to each toy. Have them add up the total number of crackers distributed. Ask them to predict how many more crackers they would need if one of their toy action figures joined the party. Then ask them to predict the total number of crackers needed with yet another guest. This gives them an opportunity to "add up" in their heads and then see if they are correct when they actually add the next figure and count up the new total. The game can be played in reverse when one of the figures leaves the party, taking their crackers with them.
· Play More or Less
Think of a number for your child to guess. After each guess, respond with the words "higher" or "lower." At different times use the words "more" or "less," so your child learns different arithmetic vocabulary. This game helps correlate number words and coun