I spend a lot of time suggesting ways to support preschool children to guarantee that they will have joyful and successful time in school. But what about when they’re not in school? Even for short periods of time, like Holiday or summer breaks? Well, I invite you to glean ideas from the following list of what families can do to assure children will NOT lose any academic ground whenever they are away from the classroom. As a matter of fact, my list of activities are great to engage in when kids are in school, too.
- Discuss events of daily life. Language is the key to early school success. Children must learn to ask and understand questions, share their perspectives, and carry on in conversations about their experiences and concerns.
- Play, sing or dance with kids. Fun social play of any kind will solidly prepare children for collaboration and cooperation. Turn up the music and get moving!
- Encourage kids’ curiosity and interests, their questions, their observations, their confusions. Again, any kind talking and sharing builds strengths that support school success.
- Take children to the store with you or out to run errands, explaining all the while what you are seeing and doing, once again encouraging their questions and wonderings. Every encounter with people, things or events is rich with potential learning of active participation and inquiry.
- Give kids personal eye-to-eye attention. A babysitting TV, digital tablet or smartphone will absolutely keep kids quiet…and sadly do pretty much NOTHING really positive for them…unless someone else is there to help them discuss the experience or unless they are engaged with meaningful content, like digital books.
- Fill your home, cars, bike bags, etc., with books (owned or borrowed from the library, digital or printed). Books can bring the entire world into the reach of a child, one rich encounter at a time and on demand.
- Relax, read with children and talk about what you read. No need to play school. Just read books and discuss them together, focusing on what the books’ content means to you and to them.
Everything on this list of what leads to success in school is about language growth, and individual and cooperative problem solving. Children learn their home language and how to use it to communicate their needs by simply talking and playing around their home. The more fluent and expressive talk children engage in, the better. The more they are listened to and responded to, the more they develop effective communication skills that will pave the way for their academic success.
Research also is clear on the importance of having books in the home. The very best thing parents can do to make sure their child succeeds in school is to fill a their living space with books about topics, characters and situations that kids can relate to. The next step, of course, is to read the books with the children every day, accompanied by relaxed talk about the personal significance of what is read. Adults who take their time reading and discussing books with kids are setting them up for lifelong success.
May your holidays be filled with hours of joyful time with friends and family…and books!