Summer vacation is a great time to help your young child learn some of the skills she will need for the next school year. You will have many ideas of your own for teaching these skills, but here are a few suggestions to get you started.

Getting your child ready for school

Counting

Counting and recognizing numbers lays a foundation for the development of mathematical reasoning. Use counting rhymes such as "One, two, buckle my shoe", or "Ten little bears sitting on the bed, one jumped off and the other one said: "Nine little Bears are sitting on the bed....."

Play board games such as Chutes and Ladders and Candyland with her.

Telling time

Telling time is a very important skill, because it is a task that helps children gain independence. You can use an old wall clock to teach your child to tell time. Remove the plastic face. Move the clock hands around to show various times of the day that is significant in your child's day, such as mealtime and bedtime.

Begin with the minute hand and tell your child that each time it travels a full circle around the clock, the hour hand will move to the next number to show that one hour has passed. Place both the hour and minute hand at 12. Turn the minute hand one full circle and let the child know that one hour has passed and it is now one o'clock.

Have your child practice turning the minute hand a full circle and stop at 12. Point to the hour hand and explain that it is now two o'clock. Next, you can teach idea of the half hour when the minute hand moves half a circle. Start from 12 and travel a half-circle. Stop at six and say "it is now half-past two." Have your child practice.

Next, teach how to count by fives. Move the minute hands of the clock, counting the minutes by fives as the hand pass each number until you get to 15. Pause at each quarter hour and say the time. Have your child practice.

Identifying denominations of coins

Create a worksheet with drawings of coins of various denominations. Have your child name each coin and give its value.

Set up a play lemonade stand. Take turns making the lemonade and being the customer. Use real coins to teach your child how to buy the lemonade, what to charge and how to make change.

Recognizing colors and shapes

Recognizing shapes is important because it improves spatial awareness and helps lay the foundation for geometry. Play "I spy", looking for different colors one time and shapes the next time.

Draw a circle, square, triangle and rectangle on a piece of paper in various colors. Have your child name each shape and color.

Tying shoes

It is important for your child to learn to tie her own shoes because it will help develop her eye/hand coordination and the fine muscles in her hands. This will help her to master the skill of handwriting.

Sit beside your child and model the process step-by-step, as she ties along with you. Put one string under the other and pull it so that it is tight. Make a small loop with one lace. Take the other lace and wrap it around the loop. Bring it through the hole.

Remember, you are your child's first and best teacher. You can guide your child's learning experience and help her develop skills that will improve her performance and confidence level at school.

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