Getting ready for a new school year means more than just picking out the best backpack or selecting school supplies for your child. It’s important that, particularly for young children and those entering kindergarten, you practice those essential skills that develop pre-math, pre-reading and pre-writing aptitude.
This doesn’t require workbooks or printouts of worksheet exercises. In fact, these activities are a fun way to teach and reinforce important skills, exercise their brains and provide entertainment for the whole family to enjoy!
Matching and Sorting: Finding similarities between like objects is an essential math skill, and one they’ll be using throughout their school years. Go through your child’s wardrobe and pull out all of those clothes and shoes that no longer fit, or that should be moved to storage. Then help your child sort the items, either by type of clothing (shorts and shirts, for example), color, or size.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, “Being able to identify how things are alike and different and to place objects and ideas into categories are important school skills that are used in almost every subject area.”
Three additional projects that help teach your children basic organization skills can be found here.
Take Turns Telling: This activity is wonderful for roadtrips and during wait time at the doctor’s office. Start telling a story by taking turns, one sentence at a time. Each person should build from the person before, and the sillier the story, the better! This helps children learn to connect ideas, build a story, and pay attention to detail. Additionally, it helps reinforce essential social and classroom skills, such as listening and taking turns.
Treasure Hunt: This pre-reading skill reinforces sequence and helps reinforce the importance of following instructions. Depending on the age of your child, write simple instructions, or have them find numbered clues, which they must then arrange in numerical order. The clues should direct your child to a location where a prize or message can be found, or even to additional clues. The more elaborate and varied your clues, the better the exercise.
Thank You: Encourage your child to write thank you notes, rather than write them for your child, at birthdays and holidays. Don’t use the lack of a handy holiday to do this: think of helpful individuals in your neighborhood, such as police, librarians (especially if you’ve spent time there during the summer!) and camp counselors. This encourages writing and nurtures good social skills and a sense of community.
Write or Tell a Story: Sit down with your child with craft supplies (crayons, scrapbook paper, or paint, for example) and give your artistic muscle some exercise! After you’re finished, switch pictures with your child. Then each of you should tell or write a story about the art. What’s happening? Who or what is the main character? Where is it happening? This is also a great rainy-day activity and one you can modify by using clay or sculpting medium, or even found objects, such as twigs, rocks and flowers. Empty your junk drawer, and have fun while your child learns pre-writing skills.
Your entire family will benefit from these activities. Pull your older children away from video games and engage their minds in family fun that reinforces essential school skills that will be built upon throughout their school years.