As you know, you are your child’s first teacher, which means that learning doesn’t start in the preschool or kindergarten classroom. It starts from the moment your baby is born and continues for the rest of your lives. As your child grows from an infant into a toddler, and perhaps before he or she is ready for preschool or Early Head Start, there are easy activities that you can do to jumpstart his or her early childhood education at home.
Plant seeds and watch them grow. Teach your child how plant life begins.
Buy a packet of seeds—try an herb that you cook with frequently (basil, mint, and cilantro grow quickly with minimal human effort)—and some soil. Follow the directions on the seed packet and they’ll be growing in no time.
This activity teaches your child that plants need food to grow just like kids do. The seeds need soil and water to nourish them, like kids need water and healthy foods to nourish them.
Get excited with your child when the first sprouts break through the soil—it’s a big accomplishment for both the plant and your child!
Spend a week talking about the weather.
The weather affects much more than we actively think about. It affects how we dress, how our bodies behave, how we get our physical activity, and how we live. From frizzy hair in humidity to arthritis in rainy weather, open windows to high heating bills, adults know the effects weather has on our lives.
Over a week, talk to your child about the weather and what it means. Here are some sample questions and answers.
Teach your child about his or her senses.
When a child understands what his or her senses do, he or she can express feelings and needs better. Ask questions during regular activities that engage those senses to help your child learn each sense, and teach which body part he or she uses for each sense. Here are some examples of how to talk about senses with your child.
These are just three easy activities that you can do with your child to support his or her math, science, and thinking skills before starting preschool or Early Head Start. After you try these, think of other ways you can teach your child about the world around us—it will surprise you how much and how quickly toddlers can learn!