Categorized | Parenting Tips

Challenging Your Preschooler’s Mind

Think of your preschooler’s mind as a sponge, just waiting to expand as your child learns. While structured learning doesn’t start until Kindergarten, the years leading up to this are just as important for your child’s mental development. Neural pathways are still forming in the brain and the more you challenge your child intellectually right now, the more of these pathways in the brain will form – making it easier for him to learn for the rest of his life.

Now is the best time to introduce your child to learning. You have the chance to ensure that this is a positive experience for your child. Wouldn’t you want him to associate learning with something that is fun and exciting? By working with your child now you can make sure that learning new things becomes something he looks forward to and you can also create good study or learning habits right from the start. Not only will this help him throughout his school years, but you will be raising a person that’s inquisitive and curious about the world around him.

The next question is of course what can you do to challenge your preschoolers mind? Your everyday life is full of learning opportunities; you’ll just have to open your eyes to the endless possibilities. Start by reading to your child each day. Curl up on the couch together with a couple of good age-appropriate books and read them to your child. Stop from time to time and talk about the story, the characters within it and the illustrations in the book. Start with simple questions like what is this character’s name, or what happened to the girl in the story. As your child becomes used to engaging in the story this way, encourage him to form his own opinion about what is happening. Also ask him what he thinks will happen next and why.

Ask your child to help you prepare dinner or lunch. Count out ingredients together and have your child guess what you may be making with noodles, sauce and hamburger meat. Explain why ingredients change color or texture when you cook them. You can even introduce simple math by adding one apple to two other apples etc. Engage your child in conversations about what is going on in his life as you cook. You’ll be surprised how much you can learn about what happened at daycare or preschool or on a play date just by asking your child.

Take your child along on your weekly trip to the grocery store and quiz him on shapes and colors. You can also talk about the different fruits and vegetables in the produce section, where they grown and how you eat them. You can even talk about the different countries that a particular fruit is traditionally grown in, such as bananas come from South America, or kiwis from Australia and New Zealand.

Set some time aside each week to draw, color or make some sort of craft together. This doesn’t have to be anything too difficult. Even the simplest things like a few crayons and a piece of blank paper can turn into a lesson in color theory or into your child’s first writing lesson. Remember to keep it simple and fun. Draw a letter and ask your child to copy what you just did. Give lots of praise for the effort. Use alphabet cereal or noodles to spell your child’s name on a piece of construction paper.

We are surrounded by colors, shapes, numbers and letters. They are on cereal boxes, street signs and billboards. Just keep an eye out for them and use them to challenge your preschooler’s mind. Every day brings new learning opportunities for your child.

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