Preschool may look like a simple, cheerful gathering of little people, but it's actually a place where mighty seeds of learning are sown. Here are seven very important things you and your child can do from home that will give them a great advantage at preschool and beyond.
1. Take Up An Instrument
You don't have to be a virtuoso, and neither does your child, but it's a good idea to just get involved in the process of learning music. Experiment with different sounds and objects until you find something that peaks your child's interest. You could even create your own instruments and have a jolly good time trying them out before ever investing in a lesson or expensive piece of equipment. Studies prove the value of music to development, including for you, so working together can help the whole family.
It's the process of learning itself that benefits your child's abilities, but that doesn't mean you have to force-feed Mozart on a piano or Vivaldi on a violin -- explore the sounds and melodies together, use your own voices to learn notes and gradually introduce your child to the more serious side of learning. By then, they'll probably have a love of music that will last a lifetime and power them right through any formal teaching you ask them to complete.
2. Read Together
Especially if you're pressed for time, you might be inclined to read a quick story to your little one, but it may be far more beneficial to read together, instead. Set aside time where you can sit together and you can point to words as you read them; emphasize small words that are repeated often enough and then prompt your child to say them. Reading is big in preschool, so your efforts with books will be reinforced every day your child goes off to the school.
3. Tuck In Early
As tempting as it may be to allow your little one to stay up just a wee bit late, it's much healthier if they get to bed early. Start way ahead of time to allow for brushing, changing, checking under the bed for boogie monsters, and perhaps chatting together as your child becomes tired.
4. Finish Those Peas!
Brain food is not found in the form of high-fructose corn syrup, preservatives, and other processed ingredients; it comes from whole, real foods found in nature. Make every effort to get fresh fruits and veggies into your child, as hard as it may be to compete with the marketing power of junk food. Ask your child's preschool if they have an extra nutrition poster you can hang on your own fridge, to double the positive media blitz they're exposed to. Your child should get a kick out of seeing the same poster at home as they do at school.
5. Encourage Self-Discipline
Self-discipline can be highly beneficial to your child, beginning in the preschool environment and carrying all the way through to college and beyond. Try placing their most favorite treat on the kitchen table and asking them to sit there without touching it, just waiting for your word, and waiting, and waiting. That little exercise alone can help build self-discipline and give them a sense of control, not to mention make you feel more comfortable keeping an unlocked cookie jar on the counter.
6. Skip The Passive Learning Projects
Even if your child is watching educational material, sitting in front of a television doesn't do nearly as much for them as a hands-on project does. Rather than watching things happen, let your child make them happen, like building an ant farm or growing a garden. Imagine the difference in sensory experience and the number of neurons firing within the brain between viewing and doing!
7. Serve As Parent And Coach Extraordinaire
Encouragement from you can be one of the most important building blocks in education and life, so even though it's just preschool, ask about everything that went on in your child's day. Talk about their peers, the teachers, snacks, books read and so on; give your child the very clear notion that what they do and experience really matters. From now until quite a few years into the future, you are the number one role model and coach, so make every moment and event count.
Let the magical time of preschool also be a time for great advances for your child, intellectually and emotionally. The more you nurture your child and facilitate their curiosity and cognition, the happier and more successful they are likely to be, for life. Talk with a preschool in your area to discover more about how you can foster your child's learning.