Extending Preschool Learning Experiences at Home

Karla LysakSelah0 Comments

Everybody provides learning experiences for their children at home. Even if you feel like you don’t do anything… you do! From singing just for fun, to basics like helping your child use a spoon, you are continuously doing things with and for your kids. Let’s look at four activities you’re probably already doing, and how to further enrich these moments so your children can get the most out of them.

Four learning activities that may happen in your home throughout the week are: practicing the alphabet, singing rhymes, developing fine motor skills, and working on basic etiquette.

I. Alphabet Practice
At some point during your week you probably sing the ABCs, play with magnetic letters, identify the letters in your child’s name (or identify colours, shapes, numbers) or read with your child.

When you play these alphabet games your child is practicing basic reading skills. The skills they are learning will provide the foundation for reading, writing, and even mathematics. Below are three ideas for enriching alphabet practice.

Enriching Alphabet Activities:

  1. Hide 5 letters (or objects) in your home and have your child find them.
    • A good place to start is with the letters in your child’s name
    • Upon finding the letters, reinforce the name of each letter
    • If your child knows the letter name, reinforce the letter sound
    • Or, if it was an object that you hid, talk about words that rhyme with the object
  2. Read and re-read stories with predictable text
    • For more ideas on reading see the last article on this blog titled, “You’ll Miss the Best Things If You Keep Your Eyes Shut”- Dr. Seuss
  3. Engage your child with written text in a book, on a cereal box, etc.
    • Look at words and letters
      • Find an uppercase B
      • Put your finger on it, or underline it, etc.
      • Point to the first and last word/letter on the page
    • Look at written lines on a page
      • Count the lines together
      • Which is the longest line?
      • How many words are in it?
    • Point to the first and last word/letter on the page.

II. Rhyming, Singing Songs and Storytelling
Rhyme is a basic function of phonemic awareness (sounding out letters & words). Developing rhyming skills will also help your child crack the code of reading.

Various activities encourage reading and help develop language skills through rhymes, songs, and storytelling.

Enriching Rhyming Activities:

  1. Play with Sounds (this is fun to do while driving somewhere)
    • Find rhyming words on a page
    • Say two words (cat, hat)
      • Tell me if they start or end the same way
    • Stretch out words and have your child tell you what they are
      • rrr…aaay…nnn (rain)
      • sss….uuuu….nnnn (sun)
    • Tap or clap the beats in a word (syllables) while you say it
  2. Teach your child rhyming words, tongue twisters, and silly rhyming songs
    • Rhyme: “Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy”
    • Tongue twister: “She sells sea shells by the seashore”
    • Song: “Down by the Bay”
  3. Read rhyming books
  4. Make up your own rhymes
    • What rhymes with ________? “_______, ______, etc.”
  5. Fill in the blank:
    • “Jack and Jill went up the _______ to fetch a pail of water”
  6. Encourage your children to recount their experiences and have them describe the events that are important to them
    • Help them describe the beginning, middle, end, most exciting part, feelings involved
  7. Have conversations with your children and show interest in what they are saying
    • Ask specific questions that do not require yes or no answers
      • e.g. Instead of asking, “Did you have a good day?” or, “How was your morning?” try, “What did you make at craft time?”
  8. Visit the Library

III. Fine Motor Skills
Children need to develop the small muscles in their hands. They need these muscles in order to hold a pencil properly, write legibly, type on the computer, and to use scissors with precision.

Enriching Fine Motor Activities:

  1. Cutting & gluing
    • Have your child cut out a treasure chest or crown
    • Have them decorate it by pasting on jewels, beads, or other objects
  2. Colouring
    • Have your child put the lids back on their markers
    • Have them sharpen their pencils or pencil crayons
    • Have them peel the paper off of their crayons
  3. Crafts
    • Complete puzzles
    • Build towers and play with blocks
    • Lace objects together
    • Work with zippers and buttons
  4. Movement
    • Clap hands
    • Sing and dance together
      • “Head and Shoulders”
      • “I’m a little tea pot”
    • Play outside:  Climbing, running, bike riding, etc.

IV. Manners
In order to be productive learners it is important for children to develop etiquette skills. By etiquette, I don’t mean which fork you should use when eating a salad, I am referring appropriate social interaction. Children need to be explicitly taught basic interpersonal skills. They will develop your child’s ability to use language, which will improve their ability to communicate with others.

  • A few etiquette skills that we all want our children to learn and are:
    • Sharing
    • Waiting patiently
    • Using a quiet voice (inside voice)
    • Asking politely (saying please and thank-you)
    • Being helpful]
    • Being gentle
    • Taking personal responsibility to solve problems

Enriching Etiquette Activities:

  1. Play board games with your child
    • Take turns
    • Play fair
    • Be a gracious winner or loser
    • Bonus: play a cooperative game
  2. Take your child on outings and practice appropriate social behavior
    • Look people in the eye when speaking to them (caution: ensure your child knows not to talk to strangers when a parent or guardian is not with them)
    • Say please and thank-you
    • Respect the personal space of others
  3. Play with your child
    • Share
    • Take turns
  4. Role play difficult situations with your child
  5. Household chores
    • A great book: “Cleaning House” by Kay Wills Wyma
  6. Eating meals as a family
    • Have conversations around the dinner table
    • Remain seated
    • Swallow your food before speaking

There are SO many things you can do at home to further the learning opportunities of your children. I hope one or two of these ideas can encourage you by either recognizing what you are already doing or by giving you an idea you’d like to try.

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