When we took our daughter to her first evaluation before Kindergarten, we didn’t know she would be tested. They tested her alphabet and counting, and since it was an immersion school, they tested in both English and Spanish.
She missed some letters and numbers that we thought she knew. Before then, we made it a practice to sit down with her and recite the alphabet and count up to 20. But we eventually realized that sitting down with her to teach her things was not that effective. As with most 5-year-olds, it’s difficult to keep them attentive.
Over time, we realized that learning items are much more memorable for kids if they can experience them everyday. So we developed a few ideas that helped our kids learn as part of their everyday activities:
Send cards/letters to friends.
We found that our kids absolutely loved writing letters to their friends. It did not matter if they were near or far. At first they may just draw a picture and sign their name, but eventually they enjoyed writing sentences. They also loved the entire process of folding the letter, placing it into an envelope, addressing it, and mailing it at the post office. However, be warned that stamps seem a lot like ‘stickers’. So make sure they can’t get to the stamps later and adorn the wall with the ‘stickers’.
When we take our kids to grocery or department stores, we noticed that they really enjoyed learning what the signs that they see all the time mean. From the store logos to letters on packages, they loved spelling out the signs and learning what they mean.
Read maps while traveling.
Most kids love to travel – and using a map or atlas to show them where they are going can be really fun. Our kids were fascinated by the different countries, and they liked learning where other family members live. It seemed to make the long travels just a bit easier to have little co-pilots helping us navigate.
Take trips to the library/bookstore.
Library or bookstore time for our kids brought the same level of excitement as a beach, park, or even the local kids’ train. They each got to pick out books and loved the entire process, even scanning the books themselves at checkout. Getting them involved in selecting books seemed to make it much easier to get them excited about reading.
Play Pictionary Plus Words.
Many turn-taking games for young kids or toddlers can be tough, but for our kids, Pictionary was a cinch. We added words to the pictures and it became a blast to guess the letter for what they had drawn.
Play teacher at home.
This may not be for everyone, but we all sat down and acted like students to our daughter (‘the teacher’). She would show us how to spell words correctly and add numbers. Giving her a chance to explain things gave her a ton of confidence, and we think it also helped her understand the teacher’s perspective more.
These are just a few of the ideas we have tried. I am sure there are many more so please share them with us. We would love to add to the list!
Andrew Fry is a father and co-founder of Narwall, a new company focused on décor, clothing, toys to unlock kids’ imagination and creativity. Currently offering personalized wall art and kids’ clothing, you can visit them at the Narwall blog or get their latest updates.
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