This is a sponsored post written for Lakeshore Learning. The opinions expressed are my own.
This is my final post in the series “Preparing for Kindergarten”. That’s really bittersweet. It means that our summer is coming to an end and that it’s time for my children to begin school. It also means that we have spent the entire summer engaging in all the experiences possible to prepare them for school. And I have no regrets… We did everything we had planned and more! Trips to the zoo, art museum, two science museums, multiple beaches, etc. It’s been an amazing summer!
From my experiences as an educator and private tutor over the last 13 years, I’ve recognized a strong correlation between school success and language development. Children who are encouraged to draw connections between academic learning and personal experiences seem to have a more well-rounded understanding of their world. Here are some ways you can help support your child’s language development:
1. Read to/with your children daily. Each night, we read books together as a family. We try to provide them with fiction and nonfiction books so that they could be exposed to a variety of topics from multiple perspectives. We allow each child to select a book they want read aloud.
2. Create hands-on learning experiences to tie into what you have read. It’s great to learn from books; but children also need real-life experiences to process the information they learned in books. Reading about dinosaurs? Visit a museum with a dinosaur exhibit. Learning about farm animals? Visit a local farm.
3. Tap into prior knowledge when tying experiences together. Like me, my daughter has an amazing memory! Within our everyday lives, I try to connect prior experiences to new experiences. For example, if we are making tacos together for dinner, I may say “Do you remember when we ate at that Mexican restaurant last week? What did you order? Did you like it?” This provides children with a base for understanding new experiences. It offers opportunities for conversations and question-asking.
4. Ask and answer open-ended questions. Model good question-asking when engaging with your children. Ask questions that require children to process information and formulate opinions. For example “What was your favorite ride at the theme park? Why was it your favorite? What else did you enjoy doing at the theme park?” You can even go through photographs to remind your children of their experiences. Always encourage your children to ask questions by providing thorough answers. I know the questions get irritating sometimes, but it’s a great way for children to increase their understanding of the world around them.
5. Use advanced language concepts. If you want your children to build their vocabulary, you must model how language is used. My husband is a high school English teacher, so this is a big one for him. He often uses elevated language and requires my children to really think about how language is used. For example, if my daughter makes a request that he is unsure he wants to meet, he will say something like “Provide me with a compelling argument to convince me to meet your request.” She’s usually pretty good at convincing him.
Here’s an example of how we reinforce educational concepts in a natural learning environment. We recently visited the Florida Keys. While there, we took a trip to the Key West Shipwreck Museum.
At the museum, the children saw all different sorts of artifacts from sunken ships, like glass bottles, coins, and pottery pieces. They got to touch an antique silver bar. They saw pictures of old ships and maps. It was a great hands-on learning experience for them.
Similarly, they had a fun learning experience playing at a splash pad with a huge pirate ship. While this may not seem educational, it is repeated exposure to a similar concept. It’s an opportunity to say to your kids “Hey, remember when we went to the Shipwreck museum? Well, this is what old ships looked like! What are some of the things we learned at the museum?” It’s a great conversation starter (as well as super-fun sensory experience).
Another wonderful way to teach children language skills is through games like the Read-Around-the-House Treasure Hunt Game. This game comes with a large treasure chest, a bag of pretend pirate coins, scrolls that look like treasure maps with clues, and gold ties to go around the scrolls.
Try to find me! Do your best!
I’m just the place to sit down and rest.
I rhyme with pouch; I’m soft as can be.
And I’m big enough to seat up to three!
The clues require children to use deductive reasoning skills to find the next location. For younger children, read the clues aloud. For older children, encourage them to read the clues aloud. They will move from one room to the next, locating the clues in the designated locations.
Both children were excited to find and open up the clues and try to read them independently. And while they are not able to just yet, it was fun to watch them try. My son just started making up his own clues. They were pretty funny!
Eventually, they found the hidden treasure when they determined the location of the final clue. It was hidden behind the pillows pictured here (the clue led them to the couch). You can fill your Treasure Chest with special treats, toys, or just the coins. Get creative!
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