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You and Your Preschool Child
Ensure That Your Child Is Ready to Learn
Allow time each day for the following activities in the life of your young child. These may affect how well preschool children perform in school later on. Remember, also, to set an example of how you want your child to behave. From the start, you can make sure your child's:
- Physical needs are met with a healthy diet, enough sleep and rest, exercise and good medical care;
- Social and emotional needs are met;
- Confidence, independence and cooperation skills are nurtured;
- Discipline is appropriate and consistent;
- Play is stimulating;
- Questions are answered;
- Caregiver or preschool teacher reads to your child (you will want to bring books to the caregiver or teacher to be read to your child); and
- Day is filled with different learning activities.
—Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings
Know What Your Preschooler Needs
The Healthy Start, Grow Smart publication series at www.ed.gov/parents/ earlychild/ready/healthystart has in-depth information about the health and nurturing of your baby. Babies need:
- Loving parents or caregivers who respond to their cries or noises;
- To feel safe and comfortable;
- To hear and make sounds;
- To move around;
- To be able to play in safe areas; and
- To play with safe toys.
- Activities that allow them to use their muscles;
- To experience their senses and develop language skills;
- To work with their hands;
- To learn to do things for themselves;
- To play with other children;
- To continue to learn about their movements;
- To build their vocabulary;
- To learn about their surroundings; and
- Opportunities to make choices within limits that you set.
Introduce babies and toddlers (birth to 2 years) to language:
- Talk to your baby or toddler often. You can talk to your infant
- during feeding; look at family photographs and tell your child about
- the pictures; or tell the baby what you see out the window—a bird,
- bus, cars;
- Show your baby things, name them and talk about them;
- Encourage babbling as your toddler starts to talk;
- Sing songs and read nursery rhymes;
- Read aloud each day, even if it's just for a short time; and
- Have your child handle books—books made especially for babies or toddlers, such as interactive books (lift-the-flap or touch-andfeel)—this will help your child with motor and language development.
Three- to five-year-olds need:
- More books, games and songs;
- Chances to do science, math and art activities;
- To build their self-reliance and language skills; and
- To become aware of the world and people around them.
Introduce young children (3–5 years) to language:
- Talk to your young child often and encourage your child to speak by asking questions and talking about what happened during the day;
- Show your child new things, making sure you name them and teach your child new words every day;
- Read aloud each day, even if it is just for a short time;
- Teach your child the alphabet; and
- Check your local public library for books made especially for 3- to 5-year-olds.
Partner With Caregivers and Teachers
Talking with caregivers and teachers will help your child's academic, social and emotional development. This will also help you stay in touch with what your child is doing and learning. At all stages of your young child's growth:
- Be aware of your child's learning activities throughout the day;
- Make sure your contact information (telephone number and e-mail address) is up-to-date;
- Be aware of how your child is behaving; and
- Support what your child is learning at preschool or daycare with activities you do with your child at home.
Look for Community Resources
Community centers, parent information centers, hospitals and other local organizations can provide parenting training and services. Some community resources might include:
- Home visits from trained parent educators;
- Discussion groups with other families about children's learning; or
- Classes on how to stimulate children's mental, physical and
- emotional growth.
Tips for Selecting a Caregiver
Begin looking for a caregiver long before you need one:
- Find out where you can find a caregiver who fits your budget;
- Gather as much information as possible about each potential caregiver; and
- Look for services or agencies that can assist you.
- Be kind to your child;
- Be nurturing;
- Be alert and responsive to your child's and your needs;
- Be experienced; and
- Have a child-rearing approach that is similar to yours.
The place where you take your child should:
- Be clean;
- Be safe;
- Be comfortable;
- Be parent-friendly; and
- Have many books and educational toys.
—Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings