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Preschool Education: Essential Activities and Toys for your Home

November 28, 2011

You can hardly believe that your toddler is now a full-fledged preschooler! What are the most advantageous activities and toys for your growing child?  Kindergarten isn’t far off and you want your children to be prepared but still enjoy being a kid.

The good news is that preschool education doesn’t have to be stressful or expensive. With so many flashing, beeping, electronic toys available, we believe that the classics still take the cake. Whether your child is in a preschool program or you’re doing preschool education at home, here are four overlapping developmental categories to consider and what we feel are the best toys and activities to promote growth in each domain.

Fine Motor Skills

Help your kiddos continue working on hand-eye coordination. This quiet and focused activity is calming and fun.

  • Try puzzles, large bead stringing, artwork, cutouts with child-safe scissors, and modeling clay.
  • Toy Recommendations: Large or small wooden blocks are great for building, sorting and more.  Also check out puzzles of 25 pieces or less.  Geometric stackers and other manipulatives encourage development of many skills: stacking, sorting, matching, relationships, and spatial learning.

Emerging Literacy Skills

Start them loving books early and soon they’ll be teaching us new factoids! They already have taught us so much about love and patience but the lessons will only go on from here.

  • Read books, especially high-interest subjects for your child, alphabet/number preparation, and flashcards. Talk with your kids as often as you can – give them a play-by-play as you navigate the grocery store, sing songs with them in the car, play “I Spy” while you’re waiting in line – to help develop their language and conversation skills.
  • Toy Recommendation: The durable and attractive Teach and Play Tiles are a fun and informative way to learn letters and words.  We also recommend every family have at least one set of alphabet puzzles and number puzzles in the house.  Children gain familiarity with the shapes, names, and sounds of the letters before they even think about reading, so when the time comes to start “officially” learning to read, it seems easy!

Gross Motor Skills

Wow, are our kids really energetic or are we just getting old?  Maybe both!  We find that our child needs at least two concentrated energy-burning sessions per day to sleep well at night.  Build a positive relationship to exercise early in life!

  • Climbing, running, jumping, dancing, gymnastics, obstacle course, imitation games (Red Light-Green Light, Freeze Frame).
  • Toy Recommendations: Try the fun and easily changeable Scoot 2 Skate or help your child learn to pedal on the Classic Red Tricycle.

Concepts and Themes

Major cognitive shifts occur for preschoolers between ages 3 and 4. At this age, they begin to use symbolic thought, the ability to mentally or symbolically represent concrete objects, actions, and events (Piaget, 1952). Make-believe and role-play here we come!

  • Learn about familiar themes such as transportation, family, weather, and construction. Compare and contrast. Visit the zoo and the museum.  Provide a well-stocked dress-up box with role-playing costumes and castoffs from your closet.
  • Toy Recommendations: Let your kiddos cook you dinner using the Swing Door Kitchen and an assortment of play food.  Encourage imagination (and get ready for Halloween) with the multifaceted 3-in-1 Costume SetDollhouses and play vehicles allow further exploration of family and community life – the world preschoolers know best!

Your preschooler is growing and learning every day through play and interaction with you.  With a few carefully chosen toys and a little understanding of how children learn, you can enhance your own child’s early education in a fun and positive way!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. November 28, 2011 11:14 am

    Children gain familiarity with the shapes, names, and sounds of the letters before they even think about reading, so when the time comes to start “officially” learning to read, it seems easy!

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