13 Teacher Tips for Parents of Preschoolers

As Big PLANS for Little Kids begins a brand new school year, we know parents are also facing new day-to-day challenges with their children back in school. For parents wondering what they can do at home to help their kids excel, we asked our Early Learning Specialists (Certificated Teachers) to share some simple strategies. Here are 13 tips from our Big PLANS teachers to you:

  1. Encourage Independence – At school we have high expectations for your children, and we encourage them to do things for themselves. Resist doing for them what they can do for themselves. While it may be quicker and easier to do it yourself, it won’t help to make your child self-sufficient. Appeal to their sense of pride and always ask, “Can you do it yourself?” Raise the bar and watch them reach for it!
    kid girl preparing corn flakes with milk
  2. Take Advantage of Teachable Moments – A teachable moment is an unplanned event during the day that adults can use as a learning opportunity for kids. Parents can work on preschool concepts throughout the day while playing with their child or while getting chores done.
    • while running errands – find something red in the produce section
    • while baking together – count out a specific ingredient like marshmallows when making Rice Krispie squares
    • while doing housework – sort the laundry by colour
    • while going for a walk – look for things that start with your child’s first letter in their nameiStock-978614702.jpg
  3. Use the First/Then Strategy – One of the most often used behaviour strategies is using “First/Then” or “When/Then” language to reduce power struggles. This simple but highly effective verbal or visual tool helps motivate children to complete a non-preferred task or activity. It gives clear and consistent messages to children about your expectations and can be a powerful strategy to help support motivation and participation.”When you’ve washed your hands, then you can have a snack” or “First we’re going to clean up our toys, then we’ll go outside to play.”CKrqTA4WEAAcK4Z
  4. Encourage Nutritious Eating – It can be challenging to get preschoolers to eat all the food groups at mealtimes. Try making a poster together, cutting out pictures of food from magazines and making a collage, categorizing them into the various food groups. While doing the activity together, discuss why each food group helps them to learn and grow each day. Keep the poster visible at mealtimes to spark more conversation about healthy eating when enjoying meals together.Food-3
  5. Make Sure Your Child Is Drinking Enough Water – It is essential to ensure your child is drinking enough water throughout the day. Sometimes this can be difficult, but allowing your child to choose a fun water bottle to carry with him, whether he’s at school at home or on the playground, may be helpful. Adding fresh lemon, lime or other fruit can also add flavour to water to make it more enticing to drink. Dehydration affects children’s ability to attend, focus and learn so keeping them hydrated is an integral part of learning!child-1312065_1920
  6. Help Your Child Develop Good Sleep Habits – Sleep is a vital need, essential to a child’s health and growth. Sleep promotes alertness, memory and performance. Children who get enough sleep are more likely to function better and are less prone to behavioural problems and moodiness. That is why it is important for parents to help their children develop good sleep habits early on. Children 3-5 years should get 11-13 hours of sleep. The #1 tip for good sleeping habits in children is to follow a nightly routine. A bedtime ritual makes it easier for your child to relax, fall asleep and sleep through the night. Make bedtime the same time every night and make it a positive and relaxing experience without TV or videos. According to one recent study, TV viewing before bed can lead to difficulty falling and staying asleep. Save your child’s favourite relaxing, non-stimulating activities until last and have them occur in the child’s bedroom.bigstock-Sleeping-child-26659451
  7. Read With Your Child Daily – Enjoy a variety of books together and watch their language development and their love of books flourish! Not only does reading enhance a child’s vocabulary, and to help them understand how to read and write, but reading aloud to children one of the best ways of engaging with them. Make sure your child sees you reading books on your own as well. They want to be just like you! Modelling a love of reading helps our little ones also develop the love of reading.
  8. Limit Screen Time – Limit screen time to no more than one hour per day for preschoolers. If you choose to let your child use I-Pads, computers, or other devices, select educational games, books, and high-quality videos. Participate with your child to maximize learning. Guide your child and ask them questions. Interaction with you, the child’s parent, is the best education your child can get at this time.  Read, play, talk, and have fun. They need your attention and interaction.iStock-895445416.jpg
  9. Talk to your Child About their Day At School – Parents often mention that they have no idea what their child does at school, so here are a few questions you might ask your child to help the conversation begin:
    • Who did you sit beside for snack time?
    • What book did your teacher read to you today?
    • What was the song about that you sang?
    • What was one toy you put away at clean up time?
    • Was anybody missing from class today?
    • What was one thing that made you smile or laugh today?
    • What did you do to get your hands/shirt/face dirty?
    • Where/which centre did you spend most of your time at?Happy Family Laughing and Hugging Isolated
  10. Create a Visual Schedule to Help With Routine – Visual schedules are a simple, highly successful tool for communicating routines and expectations to children.  As an added bonus, they give adults relief from repeating themselves again and again and they motivate kids into action! Not only do they allow kids to understand the plan, but they break the steps down into pictures, help children focus and can reduce power struggles. One example of how we used a Visual Schedule was to set up a bedtime routine. Using a piece of paper, we created a visual schedule with the “steps for getting ready for bed” (i,e. brush teeth, floss, put pj’s on) outlined in pictures. We put the poster in a plastic frame from the dollar store and placed it in the child’s bedroom. Every night when the parents said, “It is time to get ready for bed,” the child would check the pictures in the framed visual schedule.
  11. Use a Timer to Help With Transitions – A timer is a useful device for structuring the beginning and end of activities. Setting a timer can let your child know how long they have to do an activity. You can use a timer for both preferred and non-preferred activities. Depending on your child, you may want to spend the first week teaching your child that timer can indicate good things (or preferred activities), before using it for more difficult transitions. Some children do best with verbal warnings, while others will appreciate a simple chime from your cell phone alarm at planned intervals. Others will need to use a visual timer such as an egg timer, microwave, mobile phone timer or hourglass so they can see how much time is left and plan accordingly.

    clear glass with red sand grainer

    Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

  12. Help Your Child Have Fun Learning the Alphabet – When learning the letters of the alphabet you can try to associate each letter with something meaningful in that child’s life. For example, If the child loves the Flames, then  “F could be for Flames” or “U could be for Uncle (insert name), their favourite, crazy Uncle.” You might also want to create a visual of the alphabet with a photo under each letter to help make the learning even more meaningful.
    ABC blocks
  13. Remember: “There can be hard times in a good day.” – For children, this statement helps them to process the event and move forward positively. For parents, it’s a handy reminder that school is a safe and caring place where children learn to become resilient by working through a hard situation with a trusted adult (teacher) while developing skills and their sense of agency in the process. Tough situations are powerful teaching tools and growth opportunities; when young children understand this, we’re building capacity for a growth mindset.

Mother with baby son with colored pencils


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