“Hey! Let’s play a game!” Most young children typically squeal with delight when we asked to play a game. As parents, we can capitalize on their enthusiasm by choosing fun games that boost child development will help them practice pre-academic skills that will prepare them for kindergarten.
Below is a list of easy, at-home and on-the-go games that you can play with your child. Remember, the key is making it fun and spontaneous. It’s important that we model excitement and pleasure in learning new concepts. The early years provide a vital window for having positive experiences with children, so take advantage of the opportunities to enjoy quality time that highlights you as their first teacher.
a.) Bath Time. Have various cups, bowls, and containers while bathing your child. Talk about how many cups or scoops fill up the containers. Make guesstimates on which holds the most and least. This activity introduces math concepts like “more” and “less” and volume.
b.) What’s Missing? This game can literally be played anywhere. Gather three to four different items on hand and present them to your child. Have them cover their eyes and then take one of the items away. Ask them, “What missing?” Try taking two items away and/or changing the order of the items. Over time you can substitute physical items for letters and numbers. The possibilities are endless! This activity helps with memory and recall.
c.) Who can find it? This is an activity that requires reading material (e.g., books, menus, newsprint, magazines, etc.) Reading with your child provides an abundance of opportunities to work on pre academic skills. One easy game is that when your child starts to recognize letters, have him/her be in charge of finding all the “T’s” or “Z’s” (or any letter) on each page. As this gets easier and easier, have him/her be in charge of finding site words like “the,” “can,” or “me.”
d.) How many steps? This is kind of a rhetorical question that you can randomly ask your child as you move from one place to the next. For example, “I wonder how many steps it takes from our front door to the end of the driveway” or “I wonder how many steps it will take us to get from the produce section to the pasta section in Safeway.” As you move from one location to the next, count out loud the steps together. This is a good way to help practice rote counting. As children become more efficient with counting you can make it more fun by counting “hops” or just counting the “right foot.”
e.) Measure up! This game is appropriate for a preschooler but with some creativity it could be simplified for a toddler. You will need a ruler, yardstick, or measuring tape. Introduce the measurement instrument to your child. Talk about how the notches measure “how long” something is. Challenge them to find items around the house that are as long as each inch notch. This activity helps them practice measuring with an equal amount and the concept of “longer versus shorter.”
The Parenting Hub would love to hear about fun, creative games you play with your child to practice pre academic skills. Please send us your comments to: email@example.com.
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