Give Your Child a Jumpstart on Learning at Home

Learning does not start the day your child walks into the kindergarten classroom. Creating a good home learning environment will help jumpstart your children into kindergarten, and give them a lifelong love of learning. Here are the parenting tips to help get your child started.

Parenting Tips for Home Learning

Everyone in your family should have a household responsibility, at least one chore that must be done on time. Have regular times to eat, sleep, play and work. This helps to establish routine and work habits that will help your child in the classroom.

Limit your family’s television time. Instead, spend time reading books, drawing, and learning together. Visit parks, children’s museums, libraries, zoos, historical sites and other places of interest to help your child gain a love of exploring new places and ideas.

Attend story or music time at your local library to help your child learn to sit still for short periods of time, take turns, and focus on a speaker in front of a group. A classroom atmosphere is much different from the one-on-one attention your child is used to at home.

Provide your children a chance to speak and be listened to. Encourage them to use good speech habits, using correct words and phrases and learning new ones. You may know what the cute baby words and phrases mean, but his teacher and peers won’t.

Encourage Reading at Home

Create a reading and writing nook at home. Provide somewhere comfy to sit, with eye level access to several books. Have your child browse through and choose one herself.

There are many pre-reading skills that can be started from birth-up to set your child on the path to becoming a great reader. Provide a low table where it is comfortable for your child to sit and color or write. Have on hand plenty of paper, paper clips, pencils and crayons. Encourage your child to use them to “write notes” and in dramatic play as signs for a store, tickets, invitations, menus and more.

Long before a child learns to form letters she has taken many steps toward learning to write. Children need activities using their hands to develop motor skills and eye hand coordination. Molding with clay, playing with knobbed puzzles, building with Legos®, and playing with beads all help your preschooler learn to control his hands.

Writing has many developmental stages. Children move from random scribbling to controlled scribbling to random alphabet letters, and on through to consonants representing words. Each step is important, so don’t push your child too fast.

Help Your Child Learn at Home

Most important, read to your child every day. Make book time a special time when you cuddle and read. Let them turn the pages and set the pace for the story. If your child loses interest or gets upset, stop for a while and try again later. Reading time should be fun time.

Talk to your child. Ask questions and answer them yourself if your child can’t answer. Use short sentences and repeat yourself. Talk about what is going on around you. This helps build vocabulary. Children with bigger vocabularies are better readers.

Ask your children to tell you what has happened in a story or to describe a picture. Ask open-ended questions. Being able to tell and retell a story helps children understand what they read. Point out letters anywhere you see them. Write your child’s name for him. Write other words that interest him like truck or dinosaur.

Sing songs and say nursery rhymes. Being able to hear the sounds that make up words, helps children when they are learning to read. When learning is part of home life, it can ease anxieties about starting school for kids and parents, giving them the confidence and tools to succeed in kindergarten.

For more information on early literacy, visit getreadytoread.org .

For a list of skills your child should know before kindergarten, talk to your local elementary school or visit familyeducation.com .

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