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Learning Tools for Tots

Preschoolers and kindergartners love to learn, especially when it is a fun experience. If you are a creative parent, making learning fun for your toddler or preschooler will be a snap. If you are not so creative, we have a few simple ideas to get you going.

When it comes to encouraging your own children, you can foster a desire to learn that will benefit them the rest of their lives. These ideas can make learning at home enjoyable for you and your child:

According to research, fathers play a big role in the education of young children, especially when it comes to a child's ability to be self-disciplined and to use positive social skills in school. This is a helpful hint for Dad:

Whenever you play a game with your children, make sure they understand the rules and can demonstrate for you what it is you want them to do. During and after the game, acknowledge your children's ability to use self-discipline and positive social skills. Try saying phrases such as, "Good Job! You stayed calm even when you lost a turn. I liked the way you took that deep breath and kept on playing. Give me five!"

A recent study of over 200 children found that mothers were an important influence on their children's ability to cooperate, especially when the children were between 2 and 3. This is a helpful hint to moms trying to potty-train their children:

Build your children's cooperation and listening skills using a weekly story poster. Create a four-square design on a piece of paper, and write down what your children learned first, second, third and fourth that day with regard to the toilet. You can use an instant camera or draw pictures with your children to document progress. Encourage cooperation and listening skills throughout the day by clapping, singing songs or reading their potty picture books with them.

Try saying things such as, "Wow! You said 'potty!' Good job. You listened (Mom pulls her ears) and you said 'p-o-t-t-y' (Mom says word slowly) just like Mommy!" After success, show them what they've accomplished. You can show them any pictures you took, and you might say, "We are putting away your new training pants! You are a big boy now!" You might even want to add the picture book to their baby book as a memento of their learning experience.

Most research suggests that the involved, cooperative care of children by both mothers and fathers is a key ingredient to success, especially in the first five years of a child's educational growth. This is a helpful hint for both parents:

How often do you hear your child say, "Nothing!" when you ask what he or she learned in school that day? To get a better picture of how the school day went, ask your child to draw you a picture on the way home of what he or she liked the best and least about school that day. You can start by saying something such as, "Now that we've stopped at the red light, show me what you've drawn so far. (Mom looks in the rearview mirror) "That drawing is wonderful!" By the time you get home, your child should be ready to share all the details!