Communication & cooperation: parenting tips for preschoolers

Amid the challenges posed by the coronavirus crisis, parents accustomed to sending their children to preschools find themselves overseeing the enrichment and education of their young ones within the confines of their homes. Recognizing that replicating a full day of preschool is often impractical given other responsibilities, we offer guidelines and principles to assist you in fostering the development of your 3-5-year-old at home, leveraging whatever time you can spare.

Educational and Developmental Objectives for Children Ages 3-5

The preschool years assume a pivotal role in establishing the fundamental framework for subsequent school-based learning. This critical period encompasses a spectrum of key objectives, aimed at nurturing various aspects of a child’s development:

Fine Motor Skills:

One of the primary focal points is the refinement of fine motor skills, achieved through a series of activities:

  • Safely employing scissors for cutting
  • Developing a proper pencil grasp
  • Engaging in coloring activities
  • Learning to form letters and numbers

Another significant goal revolves around fostering self-regulation, enhancing a child’s ability to manage their behavior:

  • Listening attentively for extended periods
  • Cultivating the capacity to sit still for longer durations

Emotion Regulation:

Emotional well-being is addressed through goal targeting:

  • Establishing healthy separation
  • Learning self-soothing techniques
  • Building frustration tolerance

Social Development:

The preschool years lay the groundwork for social skills, emphasizing:

  • Developing empathy towards others
  • Learning the art of turn-taking and sharing
  • Acquiring skills for conflict resolution

Early Academic Skills:

Building a foundation for academic pursuits is a key aspect, involving:

  • Identifying letters and numbers
  • Associating letters with their corresponding sounds
  • Recognizing and counting numbers
  • Grasping basic concepts such as shapes, colors, and textures
  • Understanding the conventions of print

Activities of Daily Living/Independence:

Independence and practical skills are encouraged through:

  • Mastering the art of putting on and taking off a jacket
  • Learning to manage personal belongings

Creativity and Imaginary Play:

Nurturing creativity and imaginative thinking is promoted by:

  • Encouraging the use of objects in novel ways
  • Fostering the sharing of imaginative thoughts

Self-Confidence as a Learner:

A crucial overarching goal is to instill confidence in the child’s innate ability to learn and explore. This self-assurance forms bedrock for a positive attitude towards education and personal growth.

In essence, preschool years serve as a dynamic phase of holistic development, addressing cognitive, emotional, social, and physical facets. By delineating specific goals within each domain, educators and parents collaboratively work towards ensuring that children enter the formal school system equipped with a solid foundation, ready to embark on their educational journey with confidence and enthusiasm.

Understanding the Learning Process of 3-5-Year-Olds

Learning unfolds seamlessly during this phase as children engage with attentive caregivers, investigate their surroundings, and partake in play. The human brain, inherently wired for learning, witnesses the fortification of neural connections in these formative years.

The encounters and engagements you orchestrate for your child actively contribute to the construction of their brain, enhancing both the efficiency and capacity for learning. Create an environment for your preschooler that is abundant in language, exposes them to a diverse array of sensory stimuli, and affords hands-on experiences to delve into fundamental concepts like shape, color, and texture, as well as an exploration of their broader environment.

The Parent’s Role in Child Development and Learning

While preschoolers can engage in independent play for short durations, parents play a crucial role in organizing their child’s day, establishing structured tasks, assisting with transitions between activities, and providing support and encouragement. Here are some strategies to enhance your child’s learning and development at home:

  1. Create Structure:
  2. Establishing a structured routine is essential for children. Predictability and consistency help them develop and learn. Through repetitive routines, such as bath time, children grasp concepts of sequencing, build vocabulary, and gain autonomy by, for instance, managing their own towel or tidying up bath toys.
  3. Check in with Teachers:
  4. If possible, communicate with your child’s preschool teacher to gain insights and suggestions for specific activities. For those receiving additional services, touch base with providers to explore ways to continue treatment and maintain progress at home.
  5. Talk to Your Child:
  6. Utilize everyday activities as opportunities for conversation, introducing new vocabulary, shapes, colors, sizes, and numbers. Engage in “serve-and-return” interactions, fostering a reciprocal exchange between you and your child, promoting attachment and a sense of self.
  7. Present Projects:
  8. Engage your child in projects such as coloring, building, sorting, or sensory play. Providing undivided attention during these activities reinforces their sense of importance. Offering positive comments and reflections on their work boosts their sense of accomplishment and self-esteem, while praising their effort contributes to the development of grit.
  9. Prompt Unstructured Play:
  10. Encourage independent play to foster creativity, problem-solving, and autonomy. Offer a variety of art materials, building blocks, or imaginary play props, allowing your preschooler to craft their own creations. If they run out of ideas, introduce new materials to see if they can independently shift to a new way of playing.

By incorporating these practices into your child’s daily routine, you contribute to their overall development, supporting cognitive, emotional, and social growth. Consistent engagement and communication with teachers and service providers further enhance the learning experience, ensuring a well-rounded foundation for your preschooler.

A Guide to Structuring Your Day

During the COVID-19 crisis, creating a rigid schedule may not be necessary or realistic, but establishing a general daily “outline” can help reduce stress for both you and your child, providing a sense of security. Consider the following tips when crafting a flexible schedule:

  1. Consistent Wake-Up Routine:
  2. Maintain a regular wake-up time, encouraging your child to change out of pajamas into “real clothes.” This routine, including breakfast at the usual time, establishes a sense of normalcy.
  3. Diverse Play Activities:
  4. Integrate various types of play throughout the day to keep things engaging and diverse. This could involve creative play, educational activities, and physical play, ensuring a well-rounded experience.
  5. Scheduled Breaks:
  6. Incorporate regular breaks into the day, allowing for exercise and free play. These intervals provide opportunities for relaxation, refreshment, and a chance for your child to recharge.
  7. Family Dinner Time:
  8. Aim to have dinner together as a family. Utilize this time for open discussions, encouraging your child to share their experiences and feelings. It’s also an opportunity for collaborative problem-solving and bonding.

By following this general outline, you establish a framework that brings some predictability to your child’s day without the need for strict scheduling. This approach helps maintain a sense of routine, contributing to a stable and secure environment during these challenging times.

Playful Learning: Various Play Approaches Beneficial for Children Ages 3-5

When structuring your child’s daily activities, it’s advantageous to integrate a variety of play styles, each catering to distinct facets of their development:

Constructive Play:

Involve your child in activities centered around building and creativity. This includes playing with blocks, Magna-Tiles, Legos, engaging in fort-building exercises, and expressing their artistic inclinations through coloring and crafts.

Physical Play:

Promote physical development by incorporating activities that encourage movement. Encourage running, skipping, participation in games like hide and seek, and dance sessions featuring activities like Simon Says and freeze dance.

Pretend Play:

Stimulate imaginative thinking through activities like dress-up, playing with dolls, participating in kitchen play, using action figures, and a modified form of “charades” where your child acts out an animal, allowing you to guess.

Sensory Play:

Engage your child’s senses with hands-on activities. Set up a sand table, explore water play, indulge in finger painting, create with play dough, and even bake bread together, providing a tactile and sensory-rich experience.

Music Play:

Immerse your child in the auditory world through activities such as listening to music and nursery rhymes, playing musical instruments, and singing together. This not only enhances auditory skills but also nurtures a love for music.

Outdoor Play:

Leverage the outdoors for a change of scenery and a connection with nature. Plan nature walks, indulge in flower picking, and engage in outdoor games like “I spy.” These activities provide not just physical exercise but also a refreshing experience in natural surroundings.

Story Time:

Cultivate a passion for reading by incorporating dedicated story time into your child’s routine. Engage in read-aloud sessions and create quiet moments with books, fostering literacy skills and establishing a tranquil atmosphere.

By incorporating these diverse types of play into your child’s daily routine, you provide an all-encompassing and enriching experience. This approach not only ensures that your child’s day is enjoyable but also actively contributes to their cognitive, physical, imaginative, and sensory development, fostering overall growth and well-being.