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Summer Learning for the Preschool Crowd

Your three- or four-year-old is done preschool for the year, but isn’t old enough for summer camp. How can you keep the learning and development flowing over the summer so that your child is ready to hit the ground running for preschool or Kindergarten in September?

Summer is a great time to spend some one-on-one time with your child at a slower pace. Take a bit of time to draw up some learning-focused materials that you can easily bring along on your summer adventures:

  • Pack a scientific nature discovery kit with a magnifying glass, a ‘petri’ dish, a notebook, and a camera. Allow your child to explore at their own pace, collecting or photographing (yes, there is some trust involved!) any little treasures. Ask them to document their observations with drawings in the notebook.

  • Get a start on reading, and augment your child’s favorite book with five or six cards. Each card contains one word from the book in very large and clear type.
    Show and read each of the cards to your child prior to reading the book together.

  • Using similar cards, write down five different animals and five different colors. Review these with your child a couple of times a day for a week, and then make a game of matching the animals to the colors. Feel free to get silly (pink bears are so much more exciting than brown ones!).

  • Keep a simple diary with your child of the highlights of each day such as, “Oliver biked to the pond and fed the ducks.” Limiting it to a sentence or two, and writing in large clear letters will keep your child’s interest and allow for eventual word recognition. Asking your child to illustrate a highlight of their day will complete a beautiful recap at the end of the day.

  • Preschoolers can be doing low-figure addition and subtraction, and even multiplication and division. Use apples they’ve picked or favorite toy figurines or anything meaningful to your child that can be grouped to illustrate basic math concepts.

Judith Sanchez, Owner/Director of the Seedlings Preschools in Calgary, keenly believes learning best follows passion, and so suggests centering your child’s learning around their interests.

If you have a child interested in dinosaurs, for example, use this as a focal topic:

Critical thinking. Allow your child to imagine or critically think prior to guiding the learning (i.e., “What do you think the spiky things are for on the dinosaur’s back?”).

Teach vocabulary. Learning the words ‘carnivore’ and ‘herbivore’ are not much more difficult than learning ‘plant’ or ‘animal eaters.’

Present information in engaging ways. You can pretend to be a dinosaur (goofy voice is a must!) and present your name, how many years ago you lived, and in what part of the world you lived.

Relate the learning to the childs world. For example, “A T-Rex weighed about nine tons, the equivalent of about nine of Grandma’s cars stacked on top of each other.”

Imagine. Have your child create a song about their favorite dinosaur.

Ask your child to write a letter to the dinosaur telling the dinosaur what they know about it. As the parent, you can write down the majority of the letter, and encourage your child to write one or two words of their own.

Judith also suggests these guidelines for optimal preschooler-age learning: “Younger children learn and respond best to a routine, particularly if the sessions are short and frequent. If the diary happens every night before bedtime, your child will begin to ask for the diary-writing each evening,” she says.

Keep the learning fun and your voice and body language animated.

And the golden rule: Always do less than your child wants. “Stopping when they are still excited and engaged will mean your child’s enthusiasm will continue the next time you pick up the activity,” advises Judith.

Corinna is happiest outside exploring and learning about the world with her three children in tow.



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