Learning can happen anywhere and everywhere – at home, in the grocery store, at the library or on a walk through the neighborhood. Take advantage of summer months to reinforce basic skills before your early learner heads to kindergarten this fall – or to brush up on skills with your elementary student.
- Help your child hold a book right-side up, with words flowing from left to right. Point out letters as you read.
- Make word play fun! Rhyming and word games, singing silly songs, or writing poems and stories together are great activities that build a love for words.
- Talk about your daily experiences and encourage storytelling in your family. This helps children strengthen their language skills.
- Let young children see you reading. Show them how people use reading all the time by reading newspapers, street signs, store signs, billboards, menus and package labels aloud.
- Carry books with you everywhere. Help your child discover that reading is a perfect way to pass the time. Going for a ride? Check out books on tape to listen to on the road.
- Provide paper, crayons and an appropriate place to scribble and draw.
- Build letter recognition by forming letter shapes with play-dough, writing with a stick in the sand or using chalk on the sidewalk.
- Ask your child to draw a picture and tell you a story about it. Write down the story as your child speaks then read it back to her to help make a connection between spoken and written words.
- Encourage your child to “write” his own story, even if it is invented spelling or scribbles on paper. Have him “read” it back to you, and share it with other family members.
- Show writing as part of everyday life! A grocery list, an email, a note from school. Sharing examples of writing can plant seed of how we communicate ideas, thoughts and feelings with words.
- Build coordination and small muscles used for writing by letting your child cut, paste, draw, paint, thread beads on a string, roll play-dough, use a computer keyboard, play a drum or spread cream cheese on a cracker.
- Count everything! Toes on a foot, petals on a flower, apples at the store, and people in your family. Point to numbers in everyday activities — on a phone keypad, around the house or on price signs at the grocery store.
- Notice numbers. Encourage number recognition in the house, walking through the neighborhood or traveling around town. Search for numbers on cereal boxes, mailboxes and speed limit signs.
- See shapes. Point out different shapes around the home: a round (circle) mirror, a rectangle-shaped book, a square cake pan. Make up your own shape bingo game, or use shape cookie cutters with play dough.
- Measure it. Compare the height of a stack of blocks to a toy box, count the number of steps to cross the kitchen, or make a recipe together. Reinforce measurement concepts by asking questions, such as “I wonder how many spoonfuls of flour it will take to fill this cup measure?”
- Make music. Research shows children who are actively involved in music – meaning they play or sing it regularly – benefit because they do better in reading and math. Listen to different kinds of music: classical, bluegrass, gospel, folk songs, hymns, choral music, opera – and, of course, your favorite classic rock (as appropriate) tunes.