Today marks the first official day of summer! Here are five tips from Jumpstart about how to make the most of your time with young children in the summer months, to make sure they keep learning even after school has let out, and get them ready for kindergarten in the fall!
1. Take advantage of your local library.
Reading regularly over the summer is one of the main ways you can keep your child’s mind growing and prepare them for kindergarten. Even without a library card, you can spend hours reading great books at the library together. Ask him or her questions as you read – What does he think will happen next in the story? What would she do if she were in the main character’s shoes? – and explain any new or unusual vocabulary words. Many librarians are happy to recommend books based on a child’s age and interests. Most libraries also have special activities or story hours for young children throughout the week, and often offer discounted tickets to local museums and zoos. Get to know your local librarians, and find out more about the great books and resources they have available!
2. Grow something together.
You can plant seeds or even dried beans from the grocery store in a pot on your windowsill or in a small area of your garden. Explore letters together by writing the names of your plants, talk with your child about different types of dirt and soil, and discuss how sun and water are necessary for a plant to grow. On a rainy day, read The Ugly Vegetables by Grace Lin together!
3. Act out kindergarten “dress rehearsals.”
If your child is getting ready to start kindergarten in the fall, help her play “kindergarten classroom” at home by talking about what to expect when she goes to school, acting out a classroom or bus ride together, sharing reasons why you’re excited for her to start school, and encouraging her to ask questions and share her feelings. If you know any of your child’s kindergarten classmates, set up play dates for them to get to know one another better. You can also take a tour of the school building to get them familiar with their new surroundings. For more ideas, read Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by Joseph Slate, or any of these other great books about entering kindergarten.
4. Use everyday moments to practice counting.
Going on a walk to the store or the park? Count the number of trees you pass on your way, or green cars, or squirrels, or people on their bicycles. Count your child’s toys together, the crackers in his snack, and the socks in his sock drawer. Counting games can be found almost anywhere! Keep the counting going while you read with Dog’s Colorful Day by Emma Dodd.
5. Have back-and-forth conversations.
Talking and listening are key activities to strengthen children’s oral language skills. Call out the things you notice happening while you do different activities with your child (cooking dinner, going grocery shopping, running an errand, etc.). As you comment on what is going on around you, ask your child open-ended questions to get them thinking and talking (click here to read advice from a teacher about how she does this in her classroom!)
Looking for other summer and kindergarten readiness ideas?
Check out the links below for more suggestions: