Foster a child's development with daily activities

It's funny how a child just takes off with learning a new skill, overnight it seems. Take for example, reading. Children learn to read over time with repetition and one day it just clicks. Daily and consistent support is critical in helping all children to learn and progress developmentally in all areas. Children will blossom from the activities that we do with them. These are some of the activities that have helped my daughter to overcome challenges in learning (receptive/expressive language, cognitive, and motor). Some are daily, some weekly...the results add up.
Activities to foster child development:
  • Make reading a daily ritual
    • Practice letter sounds
    • Build reading fluency
    • Learn site words
  • Review completed school work
    • Give praise and encouragement
    • Display work
    • Keep organized
  • Utilize online learning tools
  • Add storytelling to daily reading ritual
  • Have fun with learning
Make reading a daily ritual. 
Reading to our daughter has been a daily habit since she was a newborn. Thankfully, it has never like pulling teeth to get her interested in books...she really enjoys them. She reads them with us and by herself. When she was really little, she would flip through the pages and tell the story (memorization). She is a reading machine!

favorite books

She first started learning letter sounds with flash cards, workbooks, and LeapFrog toys. We started with alphabet flash cards. She mastered those. Then animals, word families, shapes, and counting.
I was reading on Reading Rockets, about the importance of reading fluency in developing good readers. Readers who can identify and group words together do not have to spend a lot of time decoding each word. Reading quickly aids in comprehension and also makes a reader feel more confident about reading aloud. Readers who have to spend too much time decoding each word cannot absorb what they are reading, because they are too focused on decoding. One way to help children gain reading fluency is to help them learn and recognize "by sight" the age-appropriate sight words. These are words that children are supposed to learn and memorize because they're used most frequently 50-70% in general English.

We bought a set of School Zone sight word flash cards at the grocery store for about $2.99. The're convenient for looking at almost anywhere. We liked going to Starbucks and reading through them.

School Zone flashcards: www.schoolzone.com

You can also print flashcards online for free: download free Dolch primer level sight word flash cards here. Playing with the flashcards became a routine since preschool, and she has been able to recite the sight words that they are learning in her grade. School Zone has other great sets of flashcards. Flashcards have been great for us, because repetition is key to learning.

kindergarten sight words in school work
Review completed school work.
Give praise and encouragement.
Dispaly work.
Stay organized.

Read through your child's school work together as a family at home. Display the work on the walls. This shows that you're interested in your child and what they're doing. Positive reinforcement makes children feel accomplished and eager for more positive attention. Thus, they do better in school. You are setting them up for success when you show an interest and encourage effort!

December Writing Book

Often times they make little books at school and children can bring them home to read. My daughter's school has Open Court Reading books. These short books helps them memorize the sight words and understand their meaning. We incorporate these into our daily reading.

Open Court Reading Book: "Trunk" by Ed Casey, Pre-Decodable Book 5

Making a binder of your child's completed work can help you to stay organized. Date the work that comes home. You'll see their progress over the school year. You can tell your child what a great job he or she is doing and point out areas of growth! Rewards can be given for effort.

school work binder

Utilize online learning tools. Many are free.
We also use an online learning tool called Jacob's Lessons. (Site is developed by a father of a child with autism. His wife is an behavior analyst who works with children on the autism spectrum.) This site is absouletely free! This program has taught my daughter to use a mouse, type on a keyboard, and navigate the computer, thereby building her fine motor skills. Not only that, but it has helped to increase her receptive language, matching, labeling, reading, site words, sounds, phonics, opposites, he/she, counting, and much more. She started using this program as a three-year-old, upon the advice of her developmental pediatrician. It has helped her expand her abilities across the board (cognitive, social, motor, language). I cannot say enough great things about Jacob's Lessons... My daughter loves it, and I credit much of her development to this program.

They have a variety of lessons and they keep adding new ones:

Jacob's Lessons: www.jacobslessons.com

My daughter also like PBS Kids sproutonline.com. They have games, crafts, and printables.

Storytelling is something we tag onto reading before bedtime.
After we've read about four or five books and our eyes are getting very tired, we put the books down and make up our own stories. Our daughter will say, "Tell me a story about me," and the adventure begins... She flies in the sky with her cat, goes to faraway places to help people and animals with friends and family members, and she does other amazing things. The stories can get really creative. Then we say, "OK, now it's your turn; you tell a story." I think this is my favorite time with my daughter because she has such a great imagination. I can see her little smile as she drifts off to sleep so soundly. I think that storytelling has helped her be more creative in other areas of her life.

Have fun with learning.
Helping your children to learn and progress doesn't have to be a chore. Make it fun! And the responsibility doesn't rest solely in the hands of the school/teacher. I encourage you to try these activities and some new ones at home with your kids. Everything that you do makes a difference. Skills build up over time. You may think that because your child is not mastering something, they aren't learning it. To the contrary, the seeds are being planted. The efforts will be fully realized one day. Do as much as you can today and every day.


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