Preschool children, ages 3 to 5, may be enrolled in an early childhood school setting or homeschooled. In any event, children of this age should be proficient in certain skills before entering grade school. Since parents and caregivers are a child’s first teacher, provide opportunities where preschoolers can learn through play and their environment.
Numbers are everywhere and opportunities for learning early math concepts surround us. Make counting a part of your everyday life, such as counting the steps you take, pieces of food on the dinner plate and the amount of blocks during play. Play sorting games with small toys and divide these by shape and size. Make a cooperative number booklet, where for each ordinal number you study, place the same amount of stickers on that page. Spend bonding time reading mathematical concept books that show little ones how numbers are a part of everyday life.
Colors are introduced as early as the toddler years, and continued practice and games make children proficient in this concept. Begin with primary colors (red, yellow, blue) and do color mixing activities so the children will learn the secondary colors (orange, green, purple) as well. Present squares of colored paper and ask the children to find matching items around the home or outdoors. Explain that colors are all around us. Make color booklets where preschoolers can use pictures from old magazines and glue them to the appropriate color page. Label each page, such as red apples, yellow flowers and blue clothing.
Emphasize basic shapes such as squares, circles, rectangles and triangles during the preschool years. Use games to teach and engage your child in shape learning. Cut shapes from paper and have your child search the home for items that match, such as a round bowl or ball, square windows, a rectangular table and clothes hangers that have the triangle shape. Draw shapes on paper and invite your child to make similar shapes with pipe cleaners.
Alphabet letters and their sounds are the beginning of primary reading. There's more to learning letters than just singing the alphabet song. Children must be able to recognize letters in print and out of sequence. Begin by teaching the child’s name. Make a name tag and challenge your preschoolers to recognize the letters and then write their names on each art project. Use a letter board where little ones can match capital and lower case letters. Clay is a fun material where kids can make snakes and coil these to make letter shapes.
- PBS.org: Learning and Teaching in Preschool
- Terrific Tips for Preschool Teachers; Barbara F. Backer, M. Ed.; 1998
- SW Productions/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images