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Check out the January Preschool Calendar!

December 26, 2008 · Filed Under Holidays · Comment 

Parents and care givers who have young children will want to visit the January Preschool Calendar.  This free download offers quick and easy daily activities to keep preschoolers learning and growing all month long!  There are things to do that will build fine motor skills, reading and math readiness, and social/emotional growth.  Give it a try! 

Click here to download the free activity calendar today!


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(c) 2008 Sandy Fleming


FREE Reading Class!

December 22, 2008 · Filed Under Readiness, Reading · Comment 

Anyone who has a young child in their home will want to check out the FREE reading class.  Nurturing Your Young Reader will help everyone who works with young chidlren to raise a reader.  There are twelve lessons and over 40 activities to use with kids that will help build the skills needed for literacy development.  And it’s all FREE!  So pop on over to the All Info About Reading Workshops and sign up for the Free Nurturing Your Young Reader class today!

Water Play for Young Ones

July 8, 2008 · Filed Under Uncategorized · Comment 

On the next hot day, you can occupy your young child with just a bit of water and imagination.  Try these fun ideas!

  • Use water to “Paint”.  Arm your kids with an old paint brush and a bucket of water.  Allow them to paint the water onto sidewalks, lawn furniture, or even your house or garage.  The water will make a satisfying color “change” and the kids will be happily occupied for quite a while.
  • Give young children lots of containers and a little bit of water, and they will pour and mix for quite a while.  These skills are important for motor development and also help build foundations for science concepts.
  • If you’ve got the time and patience for dirty play, try mixing the water with dirt to make mud.  Experiment with different consistencies.  What does it take to make pourable mud?  How about moldable mud?  Stirable mud?  Does one kind of dirt work differently than another?  How much mud and water does it take to make mud?  (I swear I had a kid who could make a gallon of mud from a few drops of water and a couple of grains of sand…).
  • Try some water experiments.  How long does it take the sun to warm the water?  How long does it take ice cubes to cool it?  Does the water feel the same to hands and elbows and toes? 
  • Use a straw and CLEAN water to try spraying water as far as possible.
  • Have a water Olympics: hold contests for biggest splash, longest drink without a breath, most water held in the hand, and similar competitions.
  • Use a flexible straw and CLEAN water with two bowls to try siphoning from one bowl to the other.
  • Can you build a water-powered gizmo from tinkertoys or household items?  Try for something where pouring on water moves something or causes something else to happen.

Have a wonderfully wet time!


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© 2008 Sandy Fleming

Study Skills Start in Preschool

July 4, 2008 · Filed Under Parents' Corner, Readiness, Study Skills, Tutors' Corner · Comment 

As a tutor, I often work with high schoolers who are behind in their studies.  They come to me with concerns about grades in their classes, test anxieties, and difficulty learning the material that they are expected to master.   It’s hard to help them.  Most of the time, I feel we just barely keep their head above water and have a goal of trying to prevent them from dropping out before they get that all-important high school diploma.  I wish I could’ve seen them years ago.

If I had known these kids in preschool, and had some influence with their families, I would’ve had a message for them.  When your child is two, three and four years old, you are building the foundations for the skills that kids need for successful high school learning. 

Perhaps the most important gift you can give your young child is a love of and appreciation for learning.  This attitude can only be fostered by example.  You have to show, every day, that learning is a huge part of your life and your child’s life.  Make it a priority to answer questions, to teach skills the kids are interested in, and to let them see you using learning skills whenever you can.  Read and read to them.  Fill your home with learning materials, like books, references, newspapers, magazines, and learning toys.  No matter what you thought of school, make it a point to stay positive with your child.

Encourage reading and math and science and writing-not with formal “lessons” or “practice,” but through play and life experiences.  Take your child to parks, museums, historical sites, and stores.  Look things up at the library and on the internet.  When your child expresses interest, help him or her to accomplish the goal.  There’s no need to sit around a table using flashcards to help your child learn.  He or she will gain so much more by DOING things.  Try experiments, put on a play, build a carnival in the back yard, design an obstacle course, or write a story.  Hands-on is the best way to learn.

The preschool years are also the time to train memories and build language skills, which relate directly to study skills in high school and beyond.  Encourage your young child to retell stories, to relate events in sequence, to describe and to converse.  Play memory games that require recall of increasingly larger chunks of information.  Play word games and number games. 

The long and the short of it is that the preschool years are formative, not just for character and physical development, but also for later learning.  Give your child every chance to succeed-lay the foundations for school success!


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© 2008 Sandra Fleming

Readiness Corner for June 30, 2008

June 30, 2008 · Filed Under Parents' Corner, Readiness · Comment 

Welcome to the first feature at the Learning Nook!  The Readiness Corner is a series of ideas to use with your young child as you share stories and learn together.  Watch for fun ways to help your little one grow and learn and get ready for school in the next year or two. 

Reading aloud is more than simply saying the words, you know.  For your child to get the most possible benefit, you BOTH need to be actively engaged.  As the reading adult, you need to be excited and into the story.  Your child needs to be attending and interacting with the book.  It’s not enough just to repeat the words and hope your child is absorbing them.  Here are suggestions:

Be sure to read the words exactly as printed!  No fair shortening the story because you’re in a hurry or because you’re a bit bored.  The repetition of the same words that match the print will help your child understand that print is a permanent way of communicating.  If you change things around, this vital concept will take longer to develop and your child will be at a distinct disadvantage in school.

Stop and ask questions along the way.  Ask what will happen next or recall what already happened in the story.  Ask about the pictures and ask about the characters.  When you involve your child like this, you will be boosting listening comprehension and you will be laying the foundation for understanding printed material in the future.

Play with the words a bit.  Stop at the end of a rhyming line and see if your child can fill in the correct word or any word that rhymes.  Ask him or her to find words that start with B or end with M on a page.  Let your child say the repeated part of the book when you pause at the appropriate point.  When sharing a familiar book, sneak a totally nonsensical word into the end and then the middle of a line, like “Mary had a little HAM” or “Little Boy RED, come blow your horn”.  See if your child notices the change, and laugh about it together.

Above all, keep reading fun and light-hearted.  If your youngster isn’t in the mood to listen or play with you right then, don’t push.  Also remember that some children, especially active ones, may want to listen while they do other things, such as play with blocks.  Just pause occasionally to check to see if they are attending from across the room.  HAVE FUN!

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© 2008 Sandra Fleming