Knowing what excites kids is the key to helping them master new skills and become successful students. Here's how to tap into your child's passions in a fun, meaningful way:
Kindergartners Love: Block-building
How It Helps Learning: Whether your child is constructing a wobbly tower or an elaborate city, playing with blocks fosters creativity, confidence, and problem-solving skills, while teaching math and science skills. When a child lines up blocks on the floor, he's mastering one-to-one correspondence. As he searches for the right-sized triangle to make a roof for his house, he's learning how to sort and categorize. And every time he mulls which block to place next, he's thinking analytically and learning about cause and effect.
Motivating Activities: With a few simple props and prompts, your child will be busy building and learning.
- Offer a variety of building materials. Start with basic wooden unit blocks. They strengthen muscles and gross motor skills, because they have some heft to them when lifted. Make sure your child has other types of blocks to pick from too, in different weights and sizes. Foam blocks, cardboard blocks, smaller, brightly colored blocks, and interlocking blocks, like Legos, are all great choices.
- Provide props. Vehicles, figures (people and animals), play food, and other accoutrements boost symbolic thinking and help expand storylines. Kids this age will typically recreate structures or scenarios they're familiar with in real life.
- Talk as you build. Don't take over, but do think out loud with your child as you play. Comment on what she's doing, and ask open-ended questions, like "Why do you think the building keeps falling?" and "What can we do to help it stay up?" Then problem-solve by saying something like, "Let's see if we can find another block for the bottom that might work better."
One step ahead: Find out what motivates 1st graders.