When it to comes to early childhood education, you can’t deny that children learn from, not only traditional means, such as school, but also by what they see and hear around them. It is essential for children to learn according to their age group, and with Pre-K, there is so much that they can see and do, which will be a major contributor to their childhood development.
As parents, it’s important to be aware of what your child should be learning, and it’s also important for you to understand that education starts at home, meaning children should begin absorbing necessary habits and “know-how.” That way, once they begin attending school or daycare, they’ll know what to expect and what behavior is appropriate and what isn’t. One major exception to this rule is if your child is brought to daycare as a newborn. There are many parents allowing their newborns to attend daycare so they can continue inside the workforce, which is okay, however, if you’re one of those parents who decides to keep your child at home for awhile, here are some essential things you need to remember, especially if you’re a new parent.
With Pre-K in particular, this is where your child learns the most, based on what they have already absorbed, and it is also a “prelude” to what they will be learning once they enter Kindergarten. In this day and age, you find many parents aren’t fully aware of the things their child should be doing, which is why many of them drop their children off at daycare to be “taken care of” and when picked up at the end of the day, they have no clue or common sense to know that they have a role in reinforcing their children’s lessons after their school day is finished. Granted, there are plenty of parents who are more into what goes on during their kid’s school day but sadly, there are plenty who are not.
Starting with your basic subjects, one of the things children find easy to learn, mostly because this is something they notice all around them with different objects and places is colors.
Colors are one of the things children learn is school or daycare, which will help them identify what an object is, and it’ll also help them identify what this object may feel like as far as texture, and even what temperature the object is. When your child is outside of school and you’re walking with your them to the store, or to the park, it’s very easy for you to point to something, such as a tree, and discuss what the color of that tree is. You can even do the same thing with grass, and leaves. Get creative on any and everything to help your child further take in the colors of everyday objects, such as their toys. What color is this ball we are playing with in the park? What color is your jump rope? Turn the park into a school. They won’t even notice that they’re learning. And it’ll be fun, which is how it should be for them.
Like with colors, shapes are another lesson your child will be learning and getting familiar with. To reinforce this lesson, you can help your child remember what shape is what by using everyday objects and toys. What shape is a ball? What shape is that table over there? While eating dinner at night use your kitchen table as a quide and help quiz them on what shape it is. What shape is that plate that they’re eating off of? Soon your child will begin to realize that the things they’re learning in school is all around them every single day.
Numbers and Letters:
Here’s where the more serious lessons come into play. Don’t panic. Naturally your child’s teacher will be going over all of this with them also, however, just because your child is learning these things in school, it doesn’t mean your role as a parent is limited to what you should do to reinforce what they learn in this stage either. Simple things like going over what they learn at the end of the school day, or teaching them what their letters and numbers are before they begin going to school overall can go a long way.
Everyone knows the alphabet song. Use that. Allowing them to see what each letter is that they’re singing will also help in getting them to remember what they’re doing. Don’t forget to help them pronounce each letter.
Same goes with numbers. There’s no specific song you can sing with numbers, but you can make one up. Make it fun. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you make sure they are learning it. As a former teacher, I’ve seen this a lot. Parents wouldn’t help the child learn anything at home, and when picking them up, they refuse to reinforce their lessons. Their teacher doesn’t have to be their only “teacher.” The mistake that many parents make is thinking they don’t need to do any of these things with their child, instead thinking “oh that’s what their teacher is for.” The responsibility doesn’t stop with the teacher. It’s the parents responsibility also. After all, you want to make sure your child is getting the best education possible.
Once your child can easily identify their numbers, and letters, then that’s when they will begin incorporate them into words. In school/daycare, children will learn that even though numbers and letters are different, spelling out their numbers using the alphabet is the next step in reading small words, and sentences. These letters will be put into small words, while the child learns how to pronounce each sound, putting the sounds together to say the word. Naturally small words such as “cat,” “hat,” and “bat” are good examples of this. Then they’re ready to put these words into sentences.
When you as the parent are going over these particular lessons at home, doing it “old school” is the best way, however, there are toys, and technology appropriate for a small child that will help aid them while they play and have fun, and it’ll, in turn, make it easier for you as well, especially if you decide to keep your child at home and teach them there for awhile. Even something basic like building blocks can help them with their shapes which is mentioned above.
Days of the Week, Months of the Year and Seasons:
The earlier your child knows what time of year it is, and what the month and the date is, the easier they’ll be able to tell when their birthday is, or when yours (the parents’) birthday is. This lesson will also help them determining which seasons belong to what part of the year also. The good thing about this is they will already have an idea of what season is what by how it feels around them. Using pictures will help them be able to tell what season snow belongs in, as well as what season green grass and sunshine belong in.
There will be many occasions where, if your child is in daycare, they will be given homework, usually daily. Be sure to do it with them, if necessary. Don’t do it for them! How will they learn anything that way? Also, when it comes to their lessons it’s best to make sure they are on time for school or daycare. When you’re bringing your child to a school setting, you have to remember the school or daycare has to stick to a schedule so you can’t expect to bring your child late all the time just because you don’t have to be at work as early as everyone else. Think about the amount of lessons they’ll be missing if you do that.
Emergency Situations and Drills:
This is a tough world we live in, with many bad things happening all around us everyday, no matter how oblivious we may be to it. This is one of the most important things your child MUST learn, whether they learn it in school or not. Teaching them what to do in case there’s a fire, or what to do if a stranger approaches them are essential in helping them grow up knowing how to survive.
Go over the steps you should take if you smell smoke, or in more dangerous situations, what to do if someone is caught on fire. Sometimes the drills that go along with this differs in school than at home. So do your drills your way accordingly.
When it comes to strangers, be sure your child knows what to do if someone talks to them or even tries to grab them. In drills such as this, children learning how to cross the street is also important. Don’t hesitate in talking with them because you’re afraid it may scare them or because it may be uncomfortable for you. Not everything your child learns will be easy to teach. It’s apart of life. It’s our responsibility to teach them everything they need to know.
Most children will begin giving you signs on when they’re ready to start using the potty. Sitting down and talking to them about what to do whenever they “feel the need” is only the first step. There will be plenty of times where there will be accidents that aren’t pleasant to clean up. It’ll make a good story later on in life, but in the meantime, while they’re potty training simply make sure they’re still wearing the appropriate attire, training pull-ups. Don’t forget the extra clothes they may or may not need once they continue their potty training in school. Better safe than sorry.
Potty training is something that should be taught at home. It is not up to any teacher to begin training your child for you. The only responsibility their teacher has, in this instance, is reinforcing what they have learned from you at home.
Fresh air is healthy. Plain and simple. Your child will be getting plenty of that during their school hours, however, if you’re keeping them at home, make sure you take them outside for physical activity for at least half an hour if the weather permits. They can do just about anything from exercises to drawing on the ground. Walking around is also beneficial for them as well.
As a bonus, outside activity can also help reinforce what they learn indoors, like what season it is, and what color the grass and trees are. This will also be the perfect setting for reinforcing what to do as far as crossing the street.
Being outside can help your children explore and discover new things; a pretty flower, or a blue bird. They will have even more fun and learn at the same time. You can’t go wrong with that.
Once all these lessons are incorporated into your child’s education, one thing to remember is, your child is like a sponge. They will absorb any and everything. So make it a positive experience for them. A great thing about being a parent is watching your child learn and grow. That alone is exciting for you as well as them. When learning becomes exciting for them, it becomes memorable for you. Make all of these opportunities count. It’s just what your child needs.