"When you educate your child at home, you don't have to draw a line between parenting and teaching" (p. 26). The bottom line is to immerse your child in language from birth, though the authors share specific ideas for preparing children to learn reading, writing, and math.
- TALK: Talk constantly. Explain what you're doing and why. "This sort of constant chatter lays a verbal foundation in your child's mind. She's learning that words are used to plan, to think, to explain; she's figuring out how the English language organizes words into phrases, clauses, and complete sentences."
- READ: Read all the time. Start with sturdy books ("a torn book or two is a small price to pay for literacy"). Read picture books, pointing to the words with your finger, then read them again and again. "Repetition builds literacy." Read longer books out loud with baby playing nearby.
- After reading together, ask your child questions about the story. "What did the gingerbread boy do when the old woman tried to eat him? When the dog got to the top of the tree at the end of Go, Dog, Go, what did they find? What happened after Bananas Gorilla stole all the bananas?"
- Record yourself reading, singing, reciting, and telling stories for the child to listen over and over.
- To this day, I remember the bedtime tape that my parents made for us to listen to as we fell asleep. I can quote those stories and poems with the same inflections that my parents told them (Mom's Puffin, Put a Poem in Your Pocket, Frog and Toad stories, Dad doing all sorts of A.A. Milne poems...).
- ALPHABET: Teach your child the alphabet as soon as she starts speaking. Sing the alphabet song, read alphabet books, put the letters up on the wall. Teach her the sounds of the letters just as you teach the sounds of the animals. "Pigs say oink; dogs say woof; B says b, b, b."
- Start with the sounds of the consonants. "Tell her that b is the sound at the beginning of bat, ball, and Ben; say, 'T, t, tickle' and 'M, m, mommy' and 'C, c, cat.'"
- "Then tell her that the vowels are named A, E, I, O, and U. Sing, 'Old McDonald had a farm, A, E, I, O, U.'" Emphasize that each vowel has a sound just as each animal makes a sound, and teach only the short sounds of the vowels at first: "A as in at," "E as in egg," etc.
Writing Preparation: "Continual drawing and making counterclockwise circles will prepare the preschooler for kindergarten writing."
- Teach your child to hold the pencil correctly from the beginning. Draw lots of circles and loops in a counterclockwise direction, as most printed letters use counterclockwise circles. "Make snowmen, Slinkies, smoke from a train, car wheels, and so forth counterclockwise."
- Before a young child can hold a pencil, let her form numbers, letters, and circles without one. If she wants to use one, "she can use chalk on a big chalkboard or a crayon or pencil on large sheets of paper. Regular-diameter short pencils are often easier for small fingers than fat 'preschool' pencils."
- Create basic dot-to-dots for your three-year-old (a house, a smiley face) using several big dots. Then guide the child's crayon from one dot to another to see the picture emerge.
- Make numbers a part of everyday life. "Start with counting: fingers, toes, eyes, and ears; toys and treasures; rocks and sticks. Play hide-and-seek, counting to five and then to ten, fifteen, or twenty together. Count by twos, fives, and tens before shouting, 'Coming, ready or not!' Play spaceship in cardboard boxes, and count backward to takeoff."
- Each night, we count with Daniel before turning off the lamp. We started by counting to three, and eventually he started saying it himself. So we gradually added numbers, and now at 21 months, he can count to ten by himself! Maybe that's not unusual, I'm just constantly impressed by how these little guys can learn.
- Read number books together.
- Once the child is comfortable counting, start working on simple math sums (usually during the K-4 and K-5 years).
- I found an online pdf of this book here if you'd like to peruse.
You'll probably be pleased to see that you do some of this preschooling naturally at your house, but if you're an idea-stealer like me, you're always happy for some good ones!
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