Updated: Dec 14, 2020
Recently, I came across a local mom’s post about how to help her prek child learn at home. It inspired today’s post and as a former early childhood educator and childcare professional, in addition to my family and newborn photography, it’s right up my alley! 😊 I have linked some of my favorite products or items that I don't have but fit the bill just fine.
Open Ended Building & Creating: Using their imagination is so important because this is how inventions are brought to life and creators come up with new things to share with the world. Whether it is items from the recycle, magnatiles, bristle blocks, wood or foam blocks, let their imaginations run wild. Also, if you order anything that ships in a box to your home, that box can provide hours of fun too! Kids can decorate it or hide in it...the possibilities are endless! [Pinterest board]
Dramatic Play: Children love to dress up and/or pretend they are playing a role. Through this, they can practice counting (example: Adult/playmate asks “How many fries do you have?”), learn about serving others, pretend to cook which utilizes fine motor skills, receptive (incoming) and expressive (outgoing) language, setting a table, cleaning up, learning about community helpers, building an imagination, etc. So whether you have a princess, a superhero, children’s TV character or community helper (fire, police, mail carriers) on your hands, learning can happen through this type of play. [Pinterest board]
Sensory activities/bins: Sensory bins are important for learning about texture, cause and effect, developing fine motor skills, color identification, improving counting skills, etc. Here are some ideas for sensory bin fillers many of which you can find at your local Dollar Tree (or dollar store): water, sand, dry beans, dry pasta, cotton balls, water beads, shaving cream, water, rice, dirt, etc. Nature walks are great. Give them a bucket, an empty egg carton or some other vessel and let them collect away. I highly recommend setting expectations about what will happen to the items once you return home and are done looking and/ or sorting through all that was collected. For example, you can let them know that the items need to stay outdoors by giving them a spot to put them and let them know that eventually they will need to be put back in nature or be carried away by animals! A local (to me) mom and blogger put together a list of sensory bin options and information here that are great! [Pinterest board]
Letters/Numbers/Colors/Shapes: These are all around us! You can incorporate these in every day tasks, nature walks and in every area of play! You can count the number of goldfish on your littles snack plate, ask what color the family pet is or [Pinterest board]
Sorting & Graphing: You can sort just about anything! When sorting, you can use bowls, plates, cups, or a graph to sort by color, shape, texture, etc. For example, let’s say you have fruit loops in your pantry and want to sort and graph the colors.
-Simply pour some on the table, on a baking sheet or in a large bowl.
-Then allow your child to sort them by color (If they are just starting out, feel free to put one of each color a distance apart or draw large circles on a piece of paper) to help get them started.
-They will be doing it on their own in no time. If they don’t put it in the right pile, just leave it and come back at the end. If they ask where it goes, say, “I’d like to see where you think it looks like it matches the others.”
-At the end, praise them and let them know how proud you are of them persevering and using their strong mind to sort them.
-If there are any that end up in a different color pile, simply ask your child, “Do they all look like they made it to the right pile?”
This allows them to learn the skill of double checking their work (similar to proofreading when writing or filling out paperwork, etc) and if they are able to differentiate the colors, they will see that one green fruit loop doesn’t look like all the orange surrounding it! [Pinterest board]
BONUS- LIFE SKILLS: From a very young age, children can do so many things that we don't realize! PreK kiddos can help put laundry in, put their dishes in the sink or on the counter next to the sink, throw away trash, push chairs in, clean up toys and put away in the right place, collect dirty clothes and put in a hamper, sort socks, practice making their beds, wipe down cabinets, dust the floors (think Swiffer dusters), vacuum (we love this hand vac and it's perfect for this age), fold washclothes or dish towels, water plants, feed pets, set table (practice in dramatic play then implement in real life) and so much more! Imagine how amazing it would be to have help in these areas and how much their future spouse will thank you for teaching them these skills! ;)
Just remember that at this age, they are not meant to sit for long periods of time so if they are able to focus on an activity for just a few moments, praise them and then offer it again another time. Just like physical muscles that need to grow over time, so do the ones in the mind and the ability to concentrate and focus will come along the way.
Here is a Pinterest board divided into these sections for your reference and I'll continue to add to them over time! Give Danielle Hardesty Photography a follow on Pinterest to continue to be inspired! :)
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