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What can you as a parent do to help your young child master academic milestones? You have all the perfect learning tools you need to help your child. All you need are willingness, imagination and creativity. Let’s talk about colors, for example.
“The best way to teach preschoolers their colors is to use their environment as a teaching tool,” says Maureen McCourt Boylan, former Kindergarten teacher and author of Leap into Literacy. She suggests you “ask yourself ‘What is important in the life of a three-year-old?’: choosing the purple shirt or the green shirt, the yellow banana or the red apple, the orange toy or the blue toy. Take advantage of these teachable moments and your child will learn their colors in no time.”
Try a few of these activities about colors with your child at home, and you will be amazed at how quickly your child will become a master of colors:
Add a color word: Always add a color word when talking about items in your environment. For example, instead of “Can you bring Mommy the ball?” Say, “Can you bring Mommy the red ball?”
Color your bath time: Adding color capsules (found in the bubble bath section of most discount stores) can help children become aware of colors. You can ask them what color they would like their bath to be and create it (using two colors if necessary). This is also a great introduction to the science skill of color mixing. Bath crayons (washable soap crayons used to write on the bathtub and tiles) are also wonderful for talking about colors while your child is engaged in a meaningful routine.
A colorful family: If your child is having trouble learning a particular color, try creating a day in honor of the color for the entire family. Everyone can wear the color of the day, add the color of the day to meals and snacks and point out the color in your surroundings (street signs, flowers, food boxes, cars, etc.). For example, lunch on “orange day” might consist of macaroni and cheese, carrots and oranges and you might try canned peaches for a snack. Adding food coloring to foods can help you accomplish today’s color menu easily.
Books about color: There are many wonderful books about colors. Try a couple of these favorites or ask your librarian for her favorite selections: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carle, Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh, Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert and A Color of His Own by Leo Lionni.
Use these ideas to expand on ways to help your children learn about letters or think about different math skills. It does not matter how old your child is. The key to fun and successful learning is to integrate learning into everyday life that has meaning for your child. “Teachable moments” can, and should, occur throughout your day—while driving in the car, shopping at a store, or taking a walk with your child.