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Dear Elizabeth,
I try to read to my 5-year-old daughter every day. What other things can I do to encourage her learning and help her to be prepared for kindergarten?
Tamica Burns
Elizabeth's Tips
Elizabeth Sanchez
Elizabeth Sanchez
Host
  • Getting out & about encourages your child’s curiosity
  • Every community offers rich & exciting learning experiences
  • First-hand experiences better prepare children for school
Expert Advice
Susan Baxter
Susan Baxter
Associate professor of early childhood education
Children need to see the world around them in order to begin to understand the world around them. They need to learn about real, practical things like seeing for themselves what a bus is, what a seashell is, what goes on inside a bank, supermarket, or shoe store. These things are more important, when they’re young, than learning how to use a computer.

First-hand experiences encourage a child’s curiosity which encourages their desire to learn. Children are better prepared when they enter school if they’ve had exposure to the world around them. They have a better understanding about what the teacher is talking about, what is being conveyed in stories, songs, etc.

Getting Out and About
Let your children tag along on your daily routine – going to the bank, picking up laundry, the grocery store. They will observe how people interact with each other.

Exploring nature is also great. Let them inspect stones, seed pods, leaves, insects, etc. Bring along a nature book and look up different species that they may find. Take trips to the library, ride a bus, go to the beach, watch a musical performance or sporting event. These explorations don’t have to cost much money, or any money for that matter.

Benefits
Encouraging children to explore the world around them provides so many benefits, including:
  • Keeps curiosity alive.
  • Helps improve a child’s vocabulary.
  • Helps children learn to participate in conversations.
  • Encourages them to ask questions.
  • Creates foundational understanding for math, expression, creativity and science.
Preparation
It’s a good idea to prepare children for these explorations beforehand. If you are planning to take your child to a restaurant, practice ordering the food. If you are going on a bus ride, practice how to get on and off the bus. If you are going to a store, practice exchanging pleasantries at the check out or how to buy things in a store, practice asking for help, letting people off the elevator before you get on, how to prepare to step on and off the escalator and so on.

Through rehearsal they encounter positive interactions and gain a greater sense of independence and self-confidence. Independence and self-confidence are key characteristics needed when starting kindergarten plus it’s a huge part of pro-social behavior. Make the most out of the experience by helping them anticipate and look forward to it.

After the Excursion
After the outing is a great opportunity to play out what they have explored. Talk about the excursion. Ask questions, answer the child’s questions. Encourage exploration.
Child Care Provider Comments
Joanna Velarde
Joanna Velarde
Mother of two
My child and I go everywhere together – the post office, grocery store, the park, out to eat at restaurants. We will make an event out of going to daily places. The carwash is his favorite place to go. At home, he will pretend he has his own carwash and wash his toys.
Ashlee Durr
Ashlee Durr
Cares for her niece and nephews
We take lots of opportunities to let children explore the world. With the kids in my care, we’ll go to the fire station. They get to see how a fire truck works. I take them on neighborhood walks. We’ll go out to the garden and talk to the gardener. They learn about the garden. We also go to the park, grocery store, and the donut shop to see how donuts are made.
Silvia Fischer
Silvia Fischer
Grandmother of 20-month-old
I take my grandson everywhere. The things he is most interested in are fire trucks and dump trucks. Whenever I have a chance, I’ll take him up close to see these things.

I recently took him to a construction site to see a dump truck. He knows what dump trucks do, but to actually see it and experience it was exciting for him.

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