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Preschool Education: Going Beyond the Classrooms

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Education has never been limited to just the school premises. In the wake of all the modern technology which has brought along with it, hundreds or rather thousands of ways to teach and learn, education all the more extends beyond the confines of the four walls of a classroom.

While your school does a hundred things to ensure that your child learns and grows in abundance; don’t forget that a child spends the bulk of time during the preschool years with their parent and at home. A lot of learning takes place at home, whether or not you contribute to it consciously. So, might as well make the most of these formative years in your child’s life, right?

What can you, as parents do, in order to take forward the learning happening in the classroom at home? Let’s look at some things which preschoolers typically engage in at school, and take it forward from there:

Colours, Shapes and Objects:

A fun part of learning at school for most kids is learning colours, shapes and objects. It may begin at the school with the teacher drawing the shapes, asking children to colour and then gradually move on to children themselves drawing the shapes and filling them up too. They also learn the names of simple body parts, like hands, legs, etc.

A cool way to emulate this at home would be pointing out objects of different shapes and colours to the child and questioning them about the object’s attributes. You may make a quiz out of it and reward the child too, to keep the motivation up. You may also quiz the child about the attributes of objects from their favourite story book, or a cartoon show; thus mixing fun and learning together. Same goes for the body parts – ask about your body parts and the child’s, and so on. The idea is to make everything playful; your young child learns best with play, and thus make the most of this fabulous tool.

Drawing and Cutting:

Usually, preschoolers should be able to use scissors to cut before entering upper kindergarten. Chronologically, this is the age when the child’s eye-motor-hand coordination improves drastically and continues to improve. Children learn to use brushes, paint, pencils, etc.

At home, make sure you use play dough to help your child develop firm motor skills; an alternative to the play dough is the flour dough found in almost all Indian homes. Add your child’s favourite colours to the mix and let them experiment with shapes, sizes, forms, and much more. Tearing up of rough paper or newspaper also helps in developing the motor skills required for writing, colouring, etc.

Letters and Sounds:

At school, kids learn to recognize and name all the uppercase letters, and some lowercase ones. They are also familiarized with the sounds that these letter makes. As they progress in the preschool, they also learn simple words, the sounds and how to write the same.

At home, you can reinforce this letter learning, by having the child play with letter magnets; making them practice drawing the letters line by line and in entirety; reading out to the children, and trying to make them read individual letters aloud. There is research evidence that children who are read out stories to, tend to grasp the languages better. Age appropriate songs, nursery rhymes, tongue twisters, are all good tools to help your children learn and establish connections with sounds.

Numbers and Counting:

At school, most preschoolers learn numbers 0 to 9/10; as they progress in the preschool years, they are also exposed to writing the numbers down using lines, curves and finally independently. Preschoolers are also taught counting numbers.

To facilitate number learning and counting at home, you can use an array of objects to help the child learn and remember the numbers. It can include something as simple as, asking the child how many chocolates they have, how many fingers they have, etc. Once again, you may also create quizzes and games around numbers, to keep the child interested and perhaps, push them to learn numbers beyond the single digits.

Peer Relations and Socialization:

Preschool is that space where your child will form their first peer relationships; it also pushes them out of the cocoon they live in at home. At the school, your child will learn to interact with others their own age as well as authority figures other than their parents. Social skills develop tremendously at this time.

At home, you can act as a catalyst in deepening the bonds that your child is creating at school; organize playdates, go to play groups, the playground, etc. ; all of this will improve your child’s social skills. Its’ also important that as parents you model appropriate social interaction in front of your kids. I love quoting research and thus, here’s another one. Research suggests that mothers who are social tend to raise kids who are social as well; and we all know the wonders that being social in a positive way can do for us.

The list of things / activities that one can do to enhance the child’s overall growth and development is endless. Here is a compilation of some other stuff you can try at home with your preschooler:

  • Talk about feelings: Much of our focus during the formative years is on learning academics and vocational skills, but the emotional and social skills are equally important. Talk to your child about feelings from early on; use examples from your interactions or incorporate feelings while narrating a story or even highlight the feelings of the cartoons your kid is watching. This will also help your child open up to you emotionally, in times of need.
  • Perhaps you are already doing this, and if not then the simplest way to ensure that your child is in touch with the numbers, letters, words, that they are learning at school, is to display attractive posters of the same in the child’s room and other places in the house, which the child frequents.
  • Throw in some unstructured play: At school, the child may or may not get time to engage in unstructured play, that is, play which does not have any visible end result and agenda. “Play is the child’s language” and at home you have ample opportunity to give the child some agenda free play time. Children learn and grow through play of various forms and in the preschool years, a lot of learning takes place through this medium.

In conclusion, the key is to ensure that a continuum is maintained between what the child is learning at school and at home. Home learning can help the child perform better at school and school learning is a crucial element of child development. Many ideas have been thrown at you in the above paras; see what works for you and your child. And Happy Parenting!!

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