Many argue that nothing is more important than your child's social and emotional health. In fact, young children's learning is closely tied to caring relationships. Raising a child who is confident, emotionally healthy, and able to work and play well with others is critical to her later success in school and in life. Building confidence, fostering a keen sense of self, and emotionally connecting with your child are invaluable to your child as he grows into an independent adult.
Encourage your preschooler's emotional development by helping him make feeling faces in the mirror, i.e., "Can you make a happy face? Sad? Surprised? Excited? Angry?" Praise his efforts.
- Invite your child to think of additional expressions.
- Encourage your child to make up words to say in front of the mirror.
- Invite him to practice answering the phone or speaking to an adult while studying himself in the mirror. This can build confidence in preparation for doing the activity for real.
Because preschoolers are just finding out who they are, include a small photo album of pictures of your child and other family members. Or place pictures your child has made in plastic sandwich bags. Tape them together to form a book. They'll enjoy turning the pages again and again.
- Crayons, chubby pencils or a special washable marker can be included in your bag to help your preschooler pass the time.
- Remember how hard it is for young children to wait - your child won't color or write too long on her own. She will color a lot longer if you are doing it too!
- Encourage your child to help you make up a story about waiting (use any ideas your child has for the story). Use crayons to write and draw the story as you go.
Preschoolers love to help when they feel like it is their idea. Challenge your preschooler's thinking by asking where something that needs to be thrown away goes. See if he can find the trash can for you! Ask "Who could help me carry the basket of rolls to the table?" You will probably get a little more help than you wanted!
- Reinforce feelings of responsibility by allowing your child to clean up himself.
- Talk about messy and clean as you look at the table where you worked. Ask your child how he cleaned the table.
- Give your child a squirt bottle to squeeze to wash off tables, chairs, mirrors, sinks, etc.
Take advantage of community resources like recreation centers, museums, puppet shows, story hours at the library and the zoo. Your child will love seeing new things and learning about new concepts. That said, it's important to remember that preschoolers often test the limits and rules. Provide the child with clear, consistent guidelines for behavior while out in the community.
- Ask your child to explain her likes and dislikes about a new experience.
- Ask your child follow-up questions. Where did we go? What did we see? Write down her answers and invite her to draw pictures about her trip.
- Encourage longer conversations about where you've been and use the environment to encourage new motor skills.
GOING FOR A WALK
Preschoolers are very proud of what they can do and enjoy being noticed. Creating games often keeps preschoolers focused while doing everyday activities.
- Provide opportunities to repeat activities and take turns.
- Have the child think of different ways to move - walking slow or fast, hopping, "flying" like an airplane. You can imitate your child's movements.
- Play "I Spy" as you walk to encourage conversation, e.g. "I see something red. What is it?" or "I see something that climbs trees. What is it?" Take turns.