Preparing Your Child for Pre-School

Give your child a head start in life!

Casey Osmundson
Wilmington University
May 19, 2016

Vocabulary Development

  • Speak with your child. Narrate your day, explain what you are doing, and tell your child the names of people, places, and things as you interact with them.
  • Read, read, read!! Read the words in books, point to the pictures, snuggle! Reading will help your child understand word meanings and form positive feelings about books, which is the first step in promoting a lifelong love of learning.
  • Carry on conversations around your child frequently. The more she hears you speak, and the more she practices speaking, the more you will help to stimulate the development of her vocabulary and help her understand the natural rhythm and inflection of speech!
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Visual Development

  • Limit screen time. Young children need to interact with three dimensional objects in order to develop spatial understanding. Televisions and computer screens are two-dimensional, and the way that the images are projected do not allow the eyes to relax, causing unnecessary strain. In addition, the abstract concepts often discussed on television shows can cause stress to the brain, exacerbating learning issues as a child attempts to process information that he or she cannot yet understand.
  • Offer your children a variety of three dimensional objects to interact with. Early exposure to various sizes, shapes, textures, colors, and weight all contribute to visual development and spatial understanding.
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Nutrition

  • Offer a wide variety of foods to your child, including complex carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, grains), proteins, natural sugars, and unsaturated fats.
  • Try to include foods that contain nutrients that support brain development, such as boron, iron, selenium, vanadium, and potassium. Omega 3 & 6 and vitamins A, B, C, & E are also essential for brain growth.
  • If you have a picky eater, consider adding a multivitamin to supplement his or her diet.
  • Allow your child to interact with new foods as much as possible. The more a child interacts positively with a food, the more likely he or she will be willing to try it. Let them play!

Playtime: Developing Cognitive & Motor Skills

  • Teach your child rhyming games & the alphabet to help prepare them for reading in school.
  • Let the child do the work while playing, not the toy. Instead of using high tech, battery-operated toys, provide simple toys that encourage hands-on learning (promoting the development of fine and gross motor skills) and using one's imagination.
  • Play WITH your child -- don't just observe! Ask questions, talk about what they are doing. Encourage critical thinking and problem solving, and help them push their imaginations further while developing important communication and sharing skills.
  • Don't do it for them. If you do it for them, all that they learn is that you know how to do something better than them. Allowing them to struggle a little bit & figure things out for themselves promotes self esteem and encourages critical thinking and problem solving skills.
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Social Readiness

  • Provide opportunities for children interact with peers & feel comfortable when they are away from you. They will not be around you in school -- give them time to get used to it!
  • Reduce exposure to violent images. Many studies have found connections between aggressive behavior in children and the amount of violence they witness on television & in video games.
  • Model & practice appropriate emotions and behaviors. Teach your children how to be kind to others, how to express their emotions in healthy ways, and how to interact with adults and peers in socially acceptable ways (sharing, following directions, taking turns, using polite manners).
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References

Jensen, E. (2005). Teaching with the brain in mind. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.