Forget the workbooks, coloring books and hours of time in front of glowing screens! Here are 5 ideas for basic skills and activities you can practice at home with your child. These can be incorporated into the ways you already talk and play together. Ideally, your child should be reading, writing and conversing with a family member every day. You are your child’s first and most important teacher!
Note: These activities should be incorporated in a playful style. Avoid quizzing or high-pressure. Make games out of them! Try them during difficult wait times, such as standing in line at the post office. If an activity is not enjoyable, it may not developmentally-appropriate for your child at that time.
1. Writing and spelling his/her name, including aloud and on paper (ex. have your child spell the name as he/she is copying it or writing from memory, make a song up to help him/her remember how to spell it). If your child can do this, work on the middle and last names or names of other people he or she cares about.
2. Identifying and naming basic colors and shapes If your child can do this, practice describing colors (ex. light vs. dark, brightness, etc.), color mixing (ex. yellow + blue = green) and describing shapes (ex. How many sides?)
3. Noticing letters – look for them everywhere! Practice letter identification and sounds (ex. “What sound does ‘b’ make?”). Play word and sound games (ex. I Spy: “I spy something that begins with /b/” Possible responses: ball, bus, etc.) If your child knows all the upper and lowercase letters, practice writing them (ex. copy words, try to remember how to write letters without looking at a model) If your child knows the letter sounds, practice putting them together to make words when you are writing together or sound out words when you are reading together.
4. Pointing to objects while counting them – practice at least up to 10, then 20. (ex. have your child touch each thing as he/she counts. Encourage him/her not to count to quickly or count anything twice) If your child can count consistently, practice estimation (ex. “How many blocks do you think you have? Let’s count and check your answer.”)
5. Controlling his/her voice volume – not too loud, not too quiet (ex. discuss different places/times where we are quiet, different places/times where we can be loud, etc.) If your child can do this consistently, be thankful! Also, have your child describe sounds that he/she hears and makes (ex. high-pitched, whispering, near vs. far, etc.)