|What Children Learn
A Parent's Guide to Preschool
Diane Trister Dodge and Joanna Phinney
|Many parents ask us what they can do to help their children succeed in school. You don't need to buy a
lot of special toys or equipment to turn your child into a successful student. The best thing you can do is
to take time to play with your child, read wonderful books together, and talk as you go about your
normal, everyday household chores. Sometimes, after a long day at work, this may seem difficult. But
you'll find that this kind of attention has a powerful effect on children and makes your job as a parent
more fun and interesting-and sometimes easier.
You are your child's first and most important teacher. The way you talk with your child makes a big
difference in how your child thinks and feels and the kind of person your child will become. If we can
work together and do some of the same things at school and at home, your child will benefit in many
How can you prepare your child to read and write? The most important way is to take time to listen to
and talk with your child. Hold your child on your lap and read books together every day. Talk about the
stories. And make sure your child sees you reading and writing. When grown-ups read and write,
children know that reading and writing are important.
You don't have to be a whiz at math to be a wonderful math teacher for your child. Lots of things you do
at home every day involve math. The main idea is to include your child in these experiences and make
Science and Social Studies
Your child is naturally curious about the world. You can show that you are curious too by saying, "I
wonder why..." when you see something interesting. Encourage your child to ask questions, observe
things carefully, predict what will happen next, experiment, think about what happened, and share that
information. There are many things that you do together in your everyday life that can help your child to
learn about the natural world (science) and what people do (social studies).
The Arts and Technology
Your home is a place for your child to explore the arts and technology. It doesn't matter whether you can
sing, dance, or act. Remember, for young children, the act of creating is what's important, not what the
child produces. You don't need to be artistic yourself to raise a creative child. Keep in mind also that
technology is about using tools to get a job done, whether it's and egg beater, a tape recorder, a
screwdriver, or a computer.
It doesn't matter where you live-city, farm, town, suburb, bayou, mountain, desert, tundra, or coast-or
what kind of home you have. Every place is a learning environment for a child.