School's in! New kindergartners around the country have donned their school clothes and headed off to start their education. But the learning shouldn't stop at the schoolhouse doors. Parents who encourage their children in everyday situations set their kids up for great success.
But where do you start with kindergarten activities to bring learning home?
Heading to the grocery store isn't just about getting the bananas and lunch meat. There are many valuable real-life math lessons in the store's aisles that double as kindergarten math activities.
How? Educational consultant Heidi Waterfield, EdM, suggests getting them involved in label reading. "Have the child tell you how much the item costs -- read the price label and use dollars and cents in the answer," says Waterfield. This will help reinforce learning numbers.
Kids can also learn about weight at the grocery store, she says. "Weigh produce with the child and show them how to read the [main] numbers on the scale. Help them understand that when more goes in, the weight indicator goes up, and vice versa," says Waterfield.
Groceries aren't the only food-related learning opportunity for kids. Food can aid in letter recognition -- by using food to create letters.
"Make cookie letters. Have your child form the letters by rolling the dough and putting the pieces together," says Jan Z. Olsen, OTR, Handwriting Without Tears.
Another option? Olsen suggests forming letters with foods like carrots or French fries. It brings learning into the heart of the home -- the kitchen.
Fine motor skills are more and more important at this age, but many kids don't really know how to use scissors. Practice your kindergartner's scissor skills with a fun alphabet activity -- a home learning activity that does double duty for fine motor skills and reading development.
"Making alphabet books with old magazines and newspapers is a fun, creative way to recycle and to practice that fine-motor skill of cutting -- somewhat of a lost art, I've noticed," says former teacher Andrea Villafana-Melendez.
You can also form short words with the letters and make simple sentences. Kindergarten reading games like this are a great way to introduce the idea of reading, and learning at home puts the concepts in a low-pressure, fun environment.
Flash cards are great for letter recognition, but they are also fabulous for kindergarten sight words and teaching about spelling. "Instead of doing flash card drills, you can point to letters and say the sounds, build words, substitute letters and make new words (can, cat, cap, cab...)," says Julie Rebboah, author of Magic Letters: The Keys to the World of Words and Magic Words: Discovering the Adventure of Reading.
Got cans? Everyone knows that recycling is good for the environment, but it's also good for your kids' brains. How? Let kids collect and return cans and bottles for the deposit. Rebboah says that this kindergarten math activity teaches important money skills. They learn about earning it (and budgeting it for spending later!).
"Kids are motivated by fun and by feelings of success," says Rebboah.
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