Summer Play with Your Child=Learning!

Children learn best through active play. Providing this type of early childhood play leads to sucess at school. Young children acquire reading skills through pretending and creating. Reading is developmental, and playing with books teaches reading concepts from an early age. How do we do encourage this type of play at home?
Children love to pretend, especially by playing house or school. Reading books to stuffed animals, siblings, or invisible students gives children the opportunity to “pretend read.” They use pictures to tell a story and can self-correct to make sense. They are able to retell stories that are read to them often. Folk tales such as Goldilocks and the Three Bears and The Three Little Pigs are great for retelling. After reading, have your children draw a picture or create a project. Using crayons, ribbon, or tissue paper among other materials encourages critical thinking and creative expression.
Active learning can take place at the kitchen table while reading the comics in the newspaper. Active learning can even take place in a car ride on errands. Children love to play the “license plate” game simply by identifying the letters on the plates of cars nearby. Environmental print is a term that describes words and signs easily recognized and read around the community. Pointing out the signs of fast food places and stores as well as labels at the grocery store builds early reading skills. Listening to and learning nursery rhymes is one of the most effective ways to build early reading skills. Nursery rhymes teach the most commonly used vowel sounds and word family patterns, which are the building blocks of early literacy. Finger plays and classic songs use repetitive text that contain high frequency words often found in books.
When thinking about the right gift that will encourage fun and learning for a young child, a picture book, board game, art supplies, or building blocks are always well received. Think about giving something that promotes writing like sidewalk chalk or colored pencils. Stickers and stamps are also little gifts that spark creative writing. Playdough and cookie cutters or cookie sheets with magnetic letters and numbers help build letter recognition. Other gifts may be around the house-shaving cream, yarn, pipe cleaners, and beans can be used to make letters and words. Newpapers, magazines, and catalogs can be used to cut and paste letters and words.
Children that experience active play at home, in daycare, or preschool during the first five years will be successful not only in kindergarten, but throughout school. Exposing young children to games and materials that teach language arts skills is the first step in providing quality education for our youth.