Preschoolers are soaking up knowledge all the time, and they don't have to be at school to be learning. "In the field of early childhood education, a basic belief is that parents are their children's first and most influential teachers," points out Education.com. The time spent at home with your preschooler can be educational while you are having fun and getting some household chores done as well.
The Name Game
Some of the first letters your little one will recognize are those in his own name. Label many of his personal things with his name so he begins to identify his name when he sees it written. Play a game to help him learn to spell his name using index cards. Write each letter of his name on an index card and show him how to put them in order. To begin, have his name printed on a larger piece of paper so that he can match each card to its corresponding letter. As he becomes more familiar with the letters in his name, take away the printed name and see if he can place the letter cards in the correct order to spell it. Play a variation of this game using magnetic letters on the refrigerator.
Once your preschooler has learned the letters of his name, he may begin to learn the rest of the alphabet as well. Learning the letters can be fun if you make it into a game. Write each letter of the alphabet on a small circle of paper and turn them face down on the table. Gather three plastic cups and choose one circle to hide under only one of the cups. Your child can guess which cup the circle is under, and once he finds it, he must identify the letter. You can play a letter-matching game using other household items, such as clothespins and a large coffee can. Write each letter of the alphabet on a clothespin and around the rim of the coffee can as well. Your preschooler can clip each clothespin to its matching letter on the can. For a long-term project, you can begin making an alphabet book with your child. Help him write each letter on a sheet of paper and staple them all together. On rainy days, search through old magazines and catalogs for pictures that begin with each letter to glue on each page of the book.
Counting Songs and Games
Since young children often love nursery rhymes and songs, you can help your preschooler learn numbers and counting through singing. Teach him to sing songs like "Four Little Ducks," which includes counting up to four, "This Old Man" to teach the sequence of numbers or "Five Green and Speckled Frogs" and "Ten in the Bed," which can help him learn to count down. As you sing, show him how to hold up the correct number of fingers for each number the song names. Get your preschooler up and moving as he learns to count while you take a walk around your neighborhood or your home. Give him directions on how to move that involve counting, such as "Take three giant steps and four tiny steps," or "Hop five times and turn around two times." Look for numbers all around you as you go about your everyday routines together. Have your child find and identify the numbers on food containers in the kitchen, envelopes that come in the mail or road signs as you drive in the car.
Sorting objects into categories is another skill your child can work on at home to help your little one identify similarities and differences -- and helping your child learn doesn't mean you can't get some of your household chores done at the same time. Have your preschooler help with the laundry by sorting the clothes into piles. He can sort clothes by color, by the family member they belong to or by the type of clothing. When it's time to clean up, have him sort his toys into separate bins, such as one for blocks, one for cars and one for action figures. While you put the groceries away, ask him to sort the items by their shape -- rectangular boxes and circular cans -- or by where they go in the kitchen, such as in the refrigerator or in the pantry.
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