Most preschoolers are hands-on, or kinesthetic, learners. They often use their whole body to paint a picture (think of children gathered around an easel) or use the entire room as a dance floor for their favorite song, and you can use this to your advantage when teaching your preschooler. By incorporating movement and sensory exploration into everyday activities, you can turn your regular preschool curriculum into an exciting and engaging teaching strategy, and with just a little bit of creativity, kinesthetic learning can be applied to any learning activity at home.
Circle time is the perfect time to connect with your preschooler and her friends, but preschoolers can lose focus quickly, making circle time a learning nightmare. Spice up your circle time with songs that include clapping, wiggling, jumping and moving. Incorporate small body or whole body movements into songs that teach. You can even invent a completely new song by simply adding your own words to the tune of a well-known nursery rhyme. Sing about Mount Rushmore to the tune of Old MacDonald Had a Farm and challenge your preschooler to stand up and jump every time he hears a president’s name. When you’re ready for a calmer circle time activity such as reading a book, engage him by asking questions throughout the story.Then enlist his help for things like turning the page.
Preschoolers love to get messy, so let freedom ring during art activities. Provide a variety of mediums such as paint and modeling clay during both parent-led and independent activities. Cover the floor with black poster board and turn your floor into a miniature galaxy with a splatter paint activity, then give your child an old shoe box to turn into her very own rocket. If you’re learning about dinosaurs that week, use clay to create three-dimensional figures. Once you’ve baked the clay, make footprints in a box of sand and pour plaster into the holes so your preschooler has her very own dino prints, just like modern-day paleontologists.
Language development and literacy are the cornerstones of education, so encourage your preschooler to embrace them. While handwriting practice is important, developing literacy can extend far beyond simple writing practice. Cut letter shapes out of various materials and place in a cloth sack. Challenge your preschooler to reach into the bag, explore a hidden letter with his fingers, and guess the letter. Remember to incorporate letter sounds into literacy and language activities.
Math is Fun
Math is so much more than just numbers. Turn counting into a fun game of hopscotch during outdoor play time, practice adding and subtracting with marshmallows, and talk about building math sentences. Incorporate puzzles and shapes into your math curriculum, too, by building shapes out of pipe cleaners. Make math an interactive experience for your busy preschooler.
Preschoolers are curious about the world around them, so science can become a favorite subject. Seasonal changes provide inspiration for new activities all year long, so take your child on regular nature walks and talk about the seasonal changes and how they affect the world. Engage your preschooler in discussions where you ask open-ended questions. Nature scavenger hunts are also a favorite activity at this age, or use a water table to study things that sink and float and the difference between liquid and solid.
Imagination and Drama
It’s important to allow for unscripted play time, too. It is during free play that preschoolers rehearse social scenes, hone their communication skills and even practice concepts they’ve learned in school or at home. Make dramatic play areas readily available at certain times throughout the day, and designate an area for dress-up clothes, puppet shows and other forms of dramatic play. During this free time, supervise your preschooler’s independent play. Engage in the play if invited, but let her direct the activity. Letting your preschooler express herself is important and can help build confidence, among other useful life skills.