A young child’s brain is developing rapidly. Children ages one through five take in everything around them, and have the ability to learn so much. As parents, it is important that we capitalize on this pivotal time and set the foundation for our children’s academic success. If you feel your child is too young to start attending an organized pre-school program or you aren’t able to afford such an option, then why not do pre-school at home? There is so much you can do with your child to help them learn at home.
Go on Nature Walks
Take your little tike to the park or just for a walk around your backyard. Take time to point out and notice rocks, trees, pine straw, pine cones, leaves, etc. This will help him develop his vocabulary, learn about the world around him, and cultivate a love for the outdoors. Examining his finds and noticing details will help him with observational skills. The walk will also help him get a little exercise into his day. The child can take some remnants of nature with him to use in arts and crafts projects later on.
Do Arts and Crafts Activities
There is no limit to the creations your child can come up with during arts and crafts time. There are plenty of fun activities that even one year old children can participate in. You can make edible play dough with your child (there are tons of recipes at http://www.familycorner.com/family/kids/crafts/edible_play_dough.shtml), you can help them finger paint, you can let them create leaf rubbings, etc. How about painting the bottom of your toddler’s feet and letting her walk on pieces of canvas. There are many more ideas at http://fun.familyeducation.com/crafts/childrens-art-activities/33381.html. Arts and crafts help your child use her imagination and delve into her creativity. The result is a huge increase in mental development. It’s also just a lot of fun for you to have together.
Reading books with your child may be the most beneficial activity you can do with him. It is the best tool you can use to help him with his verbal development. The more words he hears the larger his vocabulary will be. Reading at an early age will also help instill a love of reading and literature into a child. This will set him up for accomplishments in school. Reading also fosters close contact and one-on-one time which helps create a bond with your child. Reading will help prepare your child for sitting quietly and listening attentively.
Put Together Puzzles
Depending on your child’s age she may need more or less help putting puzzles together, but the benefits are definitely worth it. Puzzles help your child develop fine motor skills, cognitive reasoning, spatial awareness, and more. They are great at aiding in mental development. In addition to the inherent benefits of puzzles themselves, you can find puzzles that also teach colors, shapes, animals, etc. You can make it fun for your child by interacting and celebrating when she puts the pieces in the correct places.
Music time is an important part of any pre-schooler’s education. Music helps develop neural connections in a developing brain. This will help your toddler in all other areas of learning and future academia. Putting on simple toddler music and singing along will accomplish this task just fine! Dancing along to the music in addition will help your toddler learn rhythm and will also help with his physical development. Put simple instruments into the mix such as oatmeal containers, shakers, etc. to boost the benefits even more. Play a wide variety of music for your child so that he will be exposed to a variety of different sounds. Also focus on singing a few of the same songs over and over with your toddler so that he can learn a few favorites and memorize thing such as pitch and rhythm. http://kidshealth.org/parent/growth/learning/preschool_music.html# gives lots of information on the importance of music to young children.
Take Field Trips
Let your toddler be a part of the world around her! Get her out of the house and take her to the local library, zoo, or children’s museum. There are lots of fun and educational experiences to be had in all of these places. Check out the internet to find out what programs and events are offered for young children in your community. Perhaps she can go see a puppet show, take part in a mommy-and-me class, or participate in some fun pre-school activities at the zoo. Ask other moms for suggestions. Chances are there is a wealth of educational, fun, low-cost activities waiting for your little one to explore!