Growing and learning with preschoolers

How children learn

Children are natural learners. They learn best when they are happy and when they have interesting things to do and safe places to do them.

The first and most important learning experiences happen in the family. Children learn from what they see, hear and do in the family and the wider community.

Parents and family members are in the best position to know what their children can do and what they enjoy. Children learn from:

  • watching
  • listening
  • asking
  • trying new things
  • and, very importantly, practising the skills they have learned.

Children do best where they feel loved and safe. Parents and families will be doing the best that they can for their children's learning by spending time with them and encouraging them to try new things.


Helping at home

While you are carrying out your everyday tasks at home let your children help you do things that they can manage and talk about what you are doing together. Don't expect young children to always want to do these things, there are many times when children enjoy making up their own games.

Food Preparation

Preschoolers learn by trying and doing and asking.
Preschoolers can:

  • spread sandwich fillings on bread or crispbreads - cream cheese, butter, honey
  • sprinkle other toppings on bread such as sultanas or grated cheese
  • use biscuit cutters to make interesting shaped sandwiches
  • choose vegetables for salad or soup
  • cut or grate vegetables
  • look through recipe books to find different types of meals
  • help to plan meals (eg choose what they would like to eat sometimes).


Playing outside

PreSchoolers can:

  • feed pets and clean out cages/pens with help
  • feed chooks and collect eggs
  • wash the car (with help!)
  • rake up leaves
  • draw on paths with chalk
  • paint on paths, walls or fences with water
  • kick a big ball with you
  • plant some bulbs or seeds
  • make cubby or tree houses. Old cardboard boxes make good cubbies. You may have materials such as floorboards to make a stronger cubby or tree house
  • jump over cracks in the pavement, or into puddles
  • count the number of steps the tree, to the post box, to the shop, to the fence post or gate
  • play "I'm thinking of something of something which is....(red, tall, on the road, etc)"
  • walk on their toes, heels, backwards, sideways, with giant steps, with tiny steps.


Playing with water

Always supervise your child when playing with or near water.

In the bath

  • Have some toys which float and sink in the bath.
  • Make bubbles.
  • Play in a paddle pool with supervision.
  • Fill and empty different jugs and pots.
  • Use an old paint brush and container of water to "paint" the house, fence, path etc.
  • Help water the garden.

At the shops

  • Look at and talk about different types of shops and what we buy in them.
  • Look at and talk about signs, eg stop signs, walk signs, parking signs etc.
  • Talk about safety at the shops, waiting for the bus, and in carparks.
  • Choose shopping items together.
  • Encourage your child to read labels and to find things that are on your list. He may need help at first.
  • Count the fruit or vegetables as you both put them in a bag or ask your child to choose you a yellow apple or a red apple (if you want them).
  • At the checkout let your child unload some of the items from the trolley.
  • Sometimes allow your child to pay for an item and talk about paying money for things.
  • Give your child a bag of shopping to carry.

Developing imagination

Preschoolers have very good imaginations - you need to provide the "props". (Let your preschooler include you in the game; let her choose who you will be, shopper, police officer, handsome prince, wicked witch etc.)

  • Empty boxes and packets for playing shops.
  • Large cardboard boxes for making cars, boats or houses.
  • Clothes, hats, shoes, handbags for dressing up (boys and men's clothes too).
  • Cardboard or paper, chalk, textas or pencils and sticky tape for making labels and signs.
  • Plastic bowls, an old saucepan, cups and spoons for playing 'house'.
  • Plastic garden and shed tools.
  • A picnic rug and hamper.
  • A broom to use for a horse or witch's broom.
  • Building blocks for making buildings, vehicles, roads, robots, spaceships etc.


Preparing for kindy, child care or starting school

Before going to kindy, child care or starting reception it is a good idea if you help your child to settle in better by teaching her :

  • To dress herself
  • How to recognize her name
  • How to put away her toys
  • How to share with others
  • How to look after pencils, crayons and how to put them away again
  • How to put rubbish in the bin
  • How to sit and listen and take her turn
  • How to 'read the pictures' in a story you are reading with her and talk about what might happen next.
  • How to hold a pencil or crayon

Put her name on everything and get her to find things with her name on.


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