Anywhere you look, it seems like there’s new advice about what your preschooler should be doing.
“Screen time is bad, limit it to 30 minutes a day.”
“Get them a head start on technology by buying them a tablet.”
“Your child should be reading by age 3!”
“Give your child enough play time, play is important!”
So much of the advice is conflicting, which makes it even more confusing to know what your preschooler should actually be doing. You want your preschooler to succeed. So, how can you sift through the recommendations to find out what your preschooler really needs to do in order to thrive?
We’ve consulted the experts and have found 5 helpful activities your child should do on a regular basis.
1.Fine Motor Practice
Your child’s little fingers and hands need lots of practice to develop fine motor skills. What does that mean? Basically, the muscles your child’s hands and arms need to be trained and strengthened so that they grow to have control over small movements. Fine motor skills help your child perform a range of tasks such as controlling a spoon, writing letters, and buttoning.
So, get out the playdough, crayons and beads! Stringing noodles onto yarn, finger painting, playing with blocks, water play and more are all great activities that allow your child to develop fine motor skills. These activities will prepare your child for academic success when they attend school.
2. Reading and Literacy Activities
Reading aloud to your child is fundamental for your child’s success later on in life. Believe it or not, just hearing a book helps your child in many ways such as:
- Acquiring new vocabulary
- Learning that reading is from left to right
- Improving reading comprehension
In addition, while reading, your child will learn about a boatload of topics from emotions and feelings to animals in faraway lands, history and more.
Other literacy activities include using puppets to tell your own stories, saying rhyming words, singing songs, and more. These activities will help your child sort through the logic of storytelling, help them use the new vocabulary they’ve heard while reading and enjoy word play.
3. Exercise and Gross Motor Movement
Children wiggle, they wobble and they squirm. They hop and jump for no other reason than the fun of it. They stand on their heads and they roll all over the floor. Most adults have no desire to move around in such a way, but kids do it, not to exasperate you, but because they’re learning while doing it!
Expecting your child to sit still for a long period of time is not just unrealistic, it’s unhealthy for your child. Gross motor movement, or large movements, strengthens muscles and is also critical for proper brain development.
So, make time for the playground, have a dance party and encourage your child’s insistence on balancing on the curb while walking down the street. Your child needs to move!
4. Learn Social Skills
Research shows that children’s social skills at kindergarten can predict their well being as adults. Skills such as recognizing emotions in others, exhibiting self-control, empathy and regulating emotions are all developed through play and interaction with others. Through play with others, children also develop problem solving skills and how to deal with conflict.
So, how do children learn these skills? Basically, by playing with others. So, set up playdates and encourage siblings to play. Avoid intervening immediately in disputes to give your child a chance to work through it on their own. In time, they’ll develop a great set of social skills.
5. Numeracy Activities
Counting cars that pass by as you walk and the number of peas on their plate are just two ways you can engage your child with numbers. However, don’t stop there. Talk about which cup is biggest, which is smallest and which is medium sized. Quantities and numbers are great ways to help your child develop their math brain. So, bring these concepts into your everyday conversations. This will help your child succeed later on at school.
Doing the above activities on a regular basis can set your child up for success. Most of these activities can be easily included in your regular routine. For example, get literacy skills by reading a book before bed each night. Talk about numbers and quantities at mealtimes. Find a quality childcare specialist from UrbanCircle that will offer your child playtime focused on enhancing social skills. You can also find helpful sports activities that will ensure your child gets in plenty of exercise and gross motor movement.
By taking the time to offer your child a rich environment full of activities proven to help their development, you set them up for success!