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Time to Play: 10 Ways to Reinforce Preschool Learning

In an age when public and private preschools are nearly impossible to enroll in, it can be frustrating and down-right difficult to think of new and fun ways to reinforce learning and introduce important skills at home. Preschoolers are hungry to learn though and nearly everything in your home can be used to reinforce important life and learning skills. Everything from paper plates to the set of dice your husband uses to play poker with can be used to expand your child’s knowledge and learning base. Take a look at some of the household items you can use right now to build a solid foundation for your child’s future learning.

  1. Jelly Beans: Counting jelly beans, marshmallows, or any small treat is a tasty, simple, and cheap way to reinforce counting skills and introduce addition and subtraction to your preschooler.
  2. Clocks: Do you have a clock lying around the house that needs batteries? (We all do.) If so you have a perfect learning tool! You can easily set the clock for various times while your child tells you the time and then switch, you give your child a time, let them set it themselves, and you tell the time!
  3. Dice: All you need is a set of dice to test your child’s addition, subtraction, and multiplication skills. Make it a game by taking turns rolling the two dice and racing to see how fast your child can add, subtract, and eventually multiply and divide the two numbers! This would be a great quick recall game or a competition between two children to see who could get the correct answer the fastest.
  4. Play Money: Let your child set up a store in his/her bedroom with the thought in mind that you will be in soon to make purchases. After choosing your favorite toys, help your child add up the total and then count out the money for you. Take the opportunity to discuss what you’ll do with the money that is left over. Do you have something you could save your money for? What a great time to talk to your child about the importance of saving for large purchases and for the future.
  5. Canned Food: Reinforce your child’s grasp of the alphabet by challenging them to put a set of 5 {or more} cans of food in alphabetical order.
  6. Printer Paper: Printer paper can be used to reinforce your child’s map skills when you encourage them to create maps of familiar places {ie: drawing a map from your home to their school or favorite playground or drawing a map of your neighborhood or city}; don’t forget to encourage them to also create a map key so you know what you’re looking at! Reinforce reading as well when you create story maps to follow along with the stories their reading. Perhaps when you’re reading Winnie the Pooh your child could map the Hundred Acre Wood or after reading 3 Little Pigs you could map where the pigs’ lived and what their town looked like together.
  7. Paper Plates: Use these plates to make any number of things, from pumpkin’s faces to clocks to practice telling time with. Kids love to draw, so encouraging them to use different shapes to create a pumpkin’s face is a fun way to draw them into learning.
  8. Dominoes: Dominoes are another great and affordable learning tool you probably already have lying around the house somewhere that can be used for reinforcing basic math skills as well as counting. Have your child either count the two sets of dots on one domino or you can encourage putting two ends together and add/subtract/multiply them, it just depends on their skill set.
  9. Playing Cards: Playing cards are yet another useful math reinforcement tool found in most people’s homes. Making a fun math game is as easy as pulling two cards out of the deck and having your child practice a basic math skill like addition, subtraction, or multiplication. For younger children playing cards make a great first numbers and counting tool.
  10. Grocery List: Reinforce writing, spelling and reading skills just by letting your child help you make out the grocery list. This is also a perfect time to reinforce healthy eating habits and smart food choices you are already enforcing at meals.

What do you do to reinforce learning with your preschooler? Share your tips and ideas with us!