Thanks to some research and some awesome suggestions from both Molly and Jack's teachers I am happy to provide 9 simple tips to help improve your pre-schooler or kindergardener improve their counting/math skills and letter recognition, Thankfully none of them involve flash cards.
|N is for Ninja Turtles (obviously) - Drawing by Molly age 4.|
9 Ways to make your kid a better reader and counter!
- Make them sign their namesWhether it's on greeting cards or artwork, get them to practice their signature at every possible opportunity. Beware that one off signatures are probably a better idea than getting too ambitious. On Valentine's Day I wanted to have each child sign all of their class Valentines for printing practice. 56 cards later only 13 were signed by Molly and 43 by me because Jack claimed he was "too scared to sign his name". The person who got the most "practice" was yours truly.
- Point out letters when you're reading to them
During story time Chris and I routinely point to random letters every few pages and ask both kids to identify our selection. If it's later at night we opt for more familiar letters, like those in their names.
- Label their artwork
Your kid just drew a kick ass dog, label it with a D for Dog and point it out. Or give them a D sticker to affix to the picture themselves. Molly's teacher said just the first letter is ambitious enough for most kids aged three to six (pre-school through Senior Kindergarten).
- Remember those letter blocks from when they were babies? Bring em out!
Have them build a castle for one of their dolls or toys that only uses the letters in their, or another family member's name. Ask for the blocks when you're building with them using the colours on them as well as letter names that they are familiar with to help build their confidence.
- Point out letters and numbers on street signs
This is a great activity when you're out or on a lengthy car trip or a walk. Consider playing a game of I Spy involving numbers and letters.
- Make them Count!
Have them count the number of people in the room who have asked for ice cream, make them count out the number of pretzels you're serving for snack, or the number of tea spoons or cups when they're helping you with a recipe.
- Get some Hello My Name is Tags
Put them on guests and family members to display names, initials, and ages to help with their recognition.
- Increase access to writing instruments and letters
Bath tub crayons can have them drawing, and writing their names while they bathe. Use a chalk board or magnets to display what you're serving for supper that night. Parents beware: Jack's Domo monster has marker all over his mouth because Jackie decided it was a good idea to draw food in his mouth to eat. Washable writing tools are probably the best bet.
- Buy books on topics and characters they love
Jack loves rockets and space, so we bought him some books on space to read. He also is in love with the Little Critter books (He calls the main character little Chritterfer which is pretty adorable). The Little Critter books bore Molly to tears (which she's been very vocal about), her current go to books are a series of Girl Power, 5 minute stories and The Frog and Toad Treasury Storybook. Another option when children are learning the letters in their names is the personalized "Lost Their Name" book series where a child gets a story focused on learning the letters in their own names.
Molly's Little Girl Who Lost Her Name Book, A Christmas gift from her Aunt and Uncle
What games or activities helped your children learn to read and count!