Q: "My daughter is 4-½, and misses the Kindergarden cut off for this year. We can not afford preschool and I am wondering the best way to plan to help her not be bored at home. We are always having play dates etc, but are there specific work books, activities I should be doing to prepare her better for kindergarden? She does know all letters, numbers and is starting to learn sight words....what else should I be doing?
A: "In trying to select the best learning experiences for children, parents often forget that the best resource is self. With an infectious attitude of curiosity and adventure, just about any interaction with your child will prepare them to thrive in school. A defining characteristic of successful children is keen awareness. In addition to being aware of what is seen, heard, touched, smelt, and tasted , include the skill of being aware of what is emotionally felt.
• Going to the park provides a chance to imagine the world through listening. Ask your child to close their eyes and describe five things he/she hears. Ask which sounds are new from the week before. ( fire engines, parent shouting, baby crying).
• Cooking together means the chance to play a fun guessing game. Blindfold child to guess foods and spices by smell. (Oranges are easy, cinnamon and nutmeg is a bit harder). In time the child will be able to guess what is cooking for dinner solely through the fragrance in the air.
• A fight with little brother is a chance to reflect and teach feeling words, “You are angry and disappointed that Billy took the last cookie.” " How did it make you feel, when Billy gave you his last candy?
• A trip to the petting zoo is a chance to compare the feel of the goat’s fur with that of the sheep. Cleaning your child's room together is a chance to touch and name things by how they feel. " This table top is very smooth. This wood carving is rough. Your favorite toy is soft and furry." " What does this feel to you?"
Know your worth; take time and effort to invest in yourself (sleep, alone time, and date night) so that you can be fully present during selected interactions with your child. Rather than insisting to have more of your time, your child will most likely be quite content to work and play happily on their own after feeling heard, seen, and respected by his most important teacher- you. "