Summer is almost officially upon us! Any thoughts of the leaves changing or fall jackets are quickly pushed aside but the next couple of months are full of potential to help your child get ready for kindergarten. Road trips mean you can spot colours from the van window and letters on stop signs. Summer is also a wonderful time for picnics and hiking in the woods. There's opportunity in all of these activities to help your child prepare for the classroom. Here are some fun, easy ideas for you to enjoy some time together this summer.
Reading: After enjoying the book Same Same that you received in your Welcome to Kindergarten bag, try talking about colours. Same, Same is an explosion of reds, greens and so much more. Talk about how you feel when you see these vibrant colours. For example, the "make music" page is a glorious sky blue. I always feel like swimming when I see it. The last page with an apple in the centre of brilliant yellow makes me want to get up and move. One of the suggestions on the Welcome to Kindergarten activity calendar for June is to plan a book exchange party. Ask your children's friends and their parents to bring two or three books to swap. (for more ideas from our activity calendar click here) The local library can also be a hotbed of activity. Ours runs a summer long kids reading club and the calendar is jammed with drop in programs.
Exploring: Get outside and look around. It's recommended children get at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day. So it's important to get moving! A walk can be full of surprises. Maybe you'll spot a caterpillar that dropped from a tree. Go for a worm hunt after a rain. Count the number of sidewalk cracks you can jump over.
Spot a little pond? Look around and see if you can see any frogs. Small things but it's being conscious of the learning opportunity that's key. Your community may also run summer family programs at the local recreation or parent resource centres. We like to ride our bikes to the free music nights in our nearby park and catch some free entertainment. It's important for kids to be outside. Richard Louv, the author of Last Child in the Woods suggests children are losing touch with the outdoors. Parents need to lead the way.
Language: I was playing with my 2 year old twin niece and nephew last weekend and it was amazing how much they love repeating everything you say! It's as if they're building a word bank and they have to try out each sound before it goes into their brain. 3 and 4 year olds have a lot more words and they're ready to build on their conversational skills. For example, after an outing to the zoo, ask them what they liked best about the day. What animal would they choose to be? Don't forget to add lots of your own thoughts and opinions. It's amazing how a week later you may overhear your little one telling a friend how much Mom or Dad wants to be an elephant.
Number sense: Grab the crayons and notepad from the Welcome to Kindergarten bag and put them in your suitcase for your family trip. If you're waiting for a meal in a restaurant, start drawing numbers with funny attachments on them. The number 4 could have a moustache or a zero could be a balloon. Write down your age and your child's and ask which one is bigger. You could count the number of forks or napkins on the table. On a camping trip, count some pine cones or gather rocks to make some shapes. How many rocks does it take to build a triangle? Numbers are all around us. Just take a few minutes to do some counting and have fun.
Routines: Let you child practice opening snack containers and getting dressed by themselves. The goal is to have kindergarteners doing as much for themselves as possible. This independence gives them confidence and the readiness to learn. A few weeks before school is set to begin, have a consistent night time schedule in place. (10 to 12 hours is the average amount of sleep recommended ) You may want to lay clothes out the night before and have clear expectations for the morning routine. This will take practice. When school starts, it will feel more rushed so it's a good idea to practice with an eye on the clock so you have a sense of how long everything will take. And remember, stay positive!
Summer often means a little less pressure in our busy schedules and more opportunities to be with family. Incorporating fun activities into your day will go a long way in helping with the fall transition. Sometimes it's just recognizing an opportunity to tweak a few of the things you already do. Read a book. Ask a question. Point out a number or get them chatting about something. Fall will be here before you know it but in the meantime, happy summer!
Join us on Tuesday, June 14th from 9am-5pm (est) for a LIVE on-line forum about early childhood development. Send us your questions and comments. Karen will be standing by LIVE to answer your posts