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Shared reading is one of the most effective strategies to help the young child acquire new vocabulary and learn more about letters and words. Some researchers see it as the initial stage of learning how to read (Sénéchal 177). The parent reads the book with the child who may ask any questions.
Interactive reading is another way to expand the child’s vocabulary and encourage him/her to participate in reading activities. The parent can ask the child to predict events in the book, explain something or describe somebody. This makes the child more involved and it enables him/her to use new vocabulary.
Reading corner is another effective strategy that can be used to encourage children to read and expand their vocabulary through retelling stories. Thus, the parent creates a reading place for the child: puts pillows, a blanket to locate the place. The parent puts books and encourages the child to choose a book and tell about its content.
Telling stories can also be effective as the child will be able to learn new words and expand his/her vocabulary. Parents can use some pictures (cut them out of magazines, draw them, use photographs) or toys to tell stories. Of course, the stories should be based on the child’s interests.
“Find the numerals” is an effective activity that help young children mark numbers (Charlesworth and Lind 558). The parent asks the child to find all 5s or any other number in a magazine. The child finds them and cuts them out to glue the numbers into a number book.
The activity “How many?” can help the child develop his/her counting skills. The parent asks the child “How many spoons are there on the table? How many chairs are there in this room?” The child learns about numbers and learns how to count.
Fraction food is another activity to train counting skills and introduce fraction vocabulary (Charlesworth and Lind 558). When cutting fruit or vegetables (especially bananas or carrots) it is possible to cut them in two pieces and stressing that those are halves, three pieces stressing that those are thirds and so on.
A monthly caterpillar can also be an effective activity to learn how to count. The child puts paper circles on the fridge door or any other surface each day adding one circle with the corresponding number. Each day the child counts the circles. These should be colorful circles.
Melting/freezing is a simple but quite effective and fun activity. The parent can take a cube of ice in a plastic cup and ask the child to predict what will happen to the ice. When the ice is melted, it is possible to put the cup back to the freezer and discuss things that happen to water.
The parent can also use the time in the kitchen to expose the child to some processes. For example, asking a child to mix two liquids or two substances. The child can also watch water boiling, or eggs changing shape and color.
In the backyard, children can also learn a lot about this world. The parent can draw the child’s attention to ants or bugs who can be found in any backyard. It is possible to encourage the child to observe the way insects move or where they live, what they eat.
Regarding trees and bushes as homes for other creatures, the parent can help the child explore this world. Thus, the parent can ask the child to find traces of other creatures. These can be holes in the leaves, or some spots, and so on. Of course, the parent should explain all those traces.
Making a map can help young children expand their knowledge of the neighborhood and the world. The parent shows the map of the neighborhood (it can be drawn by the parent) and discusses it with the child. The child locates places (including his/her home). Then, the child can create a map of his her own city or neighborhood.
Another map game involves expanding knowledge of the US states. The parent can ask the child to travel west or north from where he/she lives. The child will ‘travel’ moving a small toy or a photo of him/herself and the parent will name the states.
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Of course, it is possible to encourage the child to learn more about other cultures. The parents can find pictures of representative of ethnic groups living in the neighborhood. The parent and the child can create a poster about this ethnic group based on the parent’s stories. Of course, there can be no bias, prejudice or stereotypes.
Collecting stamps can also be an effective activity as the child can learn more about different countries. The parent can help the child to make a small book where stamps from different countries will be grouped. Of course, each stamp should be accompanied with a story.
Tracing people can be a fun and creative activity for children. The parent traces the child and the child then paints this trace creating his/her self-portrait. The materials needed are paints, brushes and the piece of paper big enough to trace the child. The child can also trace his/her sibling, friend and so on.
Challenge drawing is another interesting activity. The parent can give the child a piece of paper of unusual shape (round, triangular and so on) or glue some shapes (of white paper) to the piece of paper and ask the child to use this new space to draw something (“Challenge Drawing in Action”).
Making cards (birthday cards, valentines, and so on) is also an effective strategy that helps children explore their creativity. They will reveal their attitude towards the holiday as well as the person they are going to give the card to.
Mosaic pictures can be utilized to help children develop their creativity. The parent prepares squares of paper of different colors. The parents can also provide ideas for the mosaic. For example, it is possible to draw a template, to show a picture of an object or landscape. Later, the parent can encourage the child to use his/her own ideas.
You have a wonderful young child that is eager to explore this world. Of course, you are the ones to make this exploration effective and interesting. Children trust you and rely on you so you have the necessary influence on your child and you have the necessary knowledge and skills to help the young learner acquire knowledge and skills. Some parents think that their children will learn everything at school and there is no need to spend time teaching them to do anything or inventing some activities. Many parents think that these activities are boring and they do not want to ‘waste’ time (Colbert and Colbert ii).
However, there are various fun and effective activities that serve a number of purposes. Of course, they help young children develop. At the same time, they create a special bond between the parent and the child. It has also been acknowledged that parents who are engaged in such activities with their children contribute to their academic achievements in the future (Flora 155). Therefore, your child’s future academic performance is, to a great extent, in your hands.
It is also necessary to add that when the parent encourages the child to explore the world, his/her creativity and acquire certain skills, the child also learns how to learn, which is of paramount importance for his/her future (Flora 155). During many of such activities, the child learns how to be autonomous, which will be essential when he/she grows up. Parents should remember that they will not be able to help their children forever.
Parents should also remember that cultural aspects should be a part of any learning. Parents should make sure that their child knows about peculiarities of their culture, as this will enable the child to understand him/herself better (Mayesky 569).
Parents should tell stories that reveal peculiarities of the cultural group they pertain to. It is also essential to tell and show the child how different people are. Clearly, parents should make sure that their stories are free from stereotypes or any bias. The child will live in a diverse society and parents should make him/her prepared to interact with others.
Therefore, it is necessary to start educating your children as soon as possible. Thus, young children should be engaged in various activities aimed at developing knowledge and skills in such disciplines as language, math, science, art and social studies. Clearly, this home education cannot be carried out in a form of lectures. More so, many of these activities can be carried out when the parents in busy with his/her affairs.
For instance, the child can learn something when observing his parent cooking. When walking in a park with your child, try to draw the child’s attention to various things including living creatures, road signs, architecture, history of places and so on. Parents should try to develop their children curiosity and creativity. Of course, each activity should be interesting for your child and, hence, you may have to search for the most appropriate activities. Again, this will be beneficial for you as you will learn more about your own child.
In conclusion, it is possible to note that spending time with the child and educating him/her is one of responsibilities of the parent that can be important and fun. The parent contributes to the development of the child and creates a special bond with him/her. The child whose parents invest time and effort into his/her development, achieve higher results in their academic as well as future career life.
Charlesworth, Rosalind, and Karen Lind. Math and Science for Young Children. Belmont: Cengage Learning, 2012. Print.
Colbert, Mary A., and William P. Colbert. Helping Young Children with Reading and Writing at Home. Bloomington: Xlibris Corporation, 2009. Print.
Flora, Sherrill B. Early Literacy Intervention Activities, Grades PK-K. Minneapolis: Carson-Dellosa Publishing, 2011. Print.
Mayesky, Mary. Creative Activities for Young Children. Clifton Park: Cengage Learning, 2008. Print.
Sénéchal, Monique. “A Model of the Concurrent and Longitudinal Relations between Home Literacy and Child Outcomes.” Handbook of Early Literacy Research. Ed. Susan B. Neuman and David K. Dickinson. New York: Guilford Press, 2011. 175-189. Print.