Children learn a lot in school or in early childhood education programs, but most of their time is spent at home with their family and caregivers. Early learners who are able to capitalize on education opportunities at home will enter the classroom environment with a better foundation for developing new skills and learning new concepts.
Why Does Family Engagement Matter in Early Childhood?
According to research, the average 5 year old’s brain is almost fully developed. In those crucial brain growth years before the age of 5, an early learner has the opportunity to grow in abilities around language, emotions, and movement. A caregiver or family role in all of this is to help a future student, in their youngest years, to develop a steady foundation for learning more complex concepts later in life.
Here are a few concepts that require connections developed in early childhood:
- Self-discipline & motivation
- Problem solving & critical thinking
The importance of family and caregiver involvement in the education of early learners is clear when you consider all the important lessons and skills they are learning before the age of five. The next steps for educators looking to encourage family engagement, and caregivers who want to make the most of time at home, is to create and utilize a list of activities that prepare young learners to succeed in the school environment.
4 Activities for Families to Prepare Young Learners for the School Environment
The good news is that this list of basic activity ideas can help educators and family members to get started and get engaged without taking on anything complex or overwhelming.
Read to and read with early childhood aged learners to engage them in literacy skill building. Practicing reading out loud has long been considered one of the most important activities for developing strong literacy skills.
Reading aloud benefits the following foundational skill sets:
- Speech and cognitive skills
- Curiosity and memory skills
- Spelling and vocabulary skills
- Listening and comprehension skills
Students who enter a classroom with foundational literacy skills are more likely to enjoy learning, communicate more effectively with others, and may even be helpful to other children who may be struggling with new concepts and ideas.
Gamification has long been known as a great way to help students study for exams or practice using new skills. The same methods apply to early childhood learners. Using educational games or creating new ones helps children to develop important skills and a love of learning.
Classic examples of this include playing with:
- Alphabet & number blocks
- Building blocks
- Role playing (dress up)
- Dramatic play (play food)
As early childhood learners grow, they can begin to play more complex games that involve memory and matching, recognizing and reading words, and counting and adding. These basic, foundational skills are a great way to offer early learners the best chance for success once they enter the classroom.
Exploring new places and concepts is another way that educators and caregivers can help early childhood learners to build up their most basic skills. By physically exploring new objects and places, young children are absorbing new information and developing foundational mental patterns.
Encourage exploration by picking items up and looking over and under objects. Visit new places and allow children to find their own way around and become familiar with the new environment.
When reading a book, playing a game, or exploring a new place, it is important to discuss what’s happening with early childhood learners. They may not be able to respond to the conversation, but pointing out patterns and using descriptive words helps them to form connections between objects, actions, words, and reactions.
Get Ready Backpacks – Early Childhood School Preparation Kits
For families and educators looking to give an early childhood learner a head start on developing important skills over the summer or before starting school, consider the Early Childhood Get Ready Backpacks from Childcraft.
These school readiness backpacks are packed with quality, teacher-selected materials and activities that are designed to make learning fun and help to build a connection between concepts learned at home and at school. Involving families and caregivers is incredibly important. Help students get prepared for the year ahead with Toddler, Pre-K, and Kindergarten backpacks.