Give your toddlers a jump start this summer Saint-Jérôme QC

Toddlers, you may have noticed, are interested in everything. They are magnets for learning and new adventures, and this is why educational experts s ...

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Give your toddlers a jump start this summer

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(NC)-Toddlers, you may have noticed, are interested in everything. They are magnets for learning and new adventures, and this is why educational experts suggest making the most of these impressionable years, especially in the months just prior to kindergarten.

"Laying the groundwork for future achievement cannot begin too early," says Dr. Donna McGhie-Richmond, educational specialist with Kumon Math and Reading Centres. "Studies show that for learning skills such as reading, there is a critical period from age four to seven."

Research also shows that children who have been read to several times a day at two and three years old, do substantially better in kindergarten than those whose parents do not read to them as often.

Published by the journal Developmental Psychology, a recent study involving Canadian researchers and data found that Kindergarten math skills play a major role in future math and reading achievement.

Thus, the early years do present a critical window of opportunity to build and strengthen numeracy and literacy skills. For most parents however, it is hard to gauge in the weeks just prior to kindergarten, if their little one is adequately prepared for school.

Readiness Checklist

Before kindergarten begins, it's a good idea to find out the expectations of your school system. Many schools require children to know a lot more than their parents did by the first day. In addition to monitoring general knowledge, plus physical, social, and language development, try to determine your child's 'approach' to learning, such as the level of focus and persistence with a given task. Dr. McGhie-Richmond offers this checklist of a few basics:

• Follows simple directions.

• Enjoys having books read.

• Can go to the washroom independently.

• Plays with other children.

• Is able to focus on a task.

• Handles the 'tools of learning' such as pencils, crayons, scissors, etc.

"Abiding by 'structure' is also important," Dr. McGhie-Richmond said. "Don't hesitate therefore, to instill guidelines into your child's playtime, such as a specific time period to put toys away, a time to wash up, a time for book reading, and time for a snack. Start a routine with activity books such as Kumon Workbooks, easily found at major bookstores. Just one or two math or reading exercises every day will motivate and engage your pre-schooler with basic foundation skills."

When encouraging learning at home, make it fun. Dr. McGhie-Richmond suggests playing games of I-Spy to associate sounds and letters. "For better pencil control, be sure to draw, color pictures, and paint. Encourage number recognition by counting objects, like red cars in the street. Give your child dress-up clothes to encourage role-play games and when you bake sweet treats together be sure to talk about the weights and measures."