Almost 11 million children are in day care every week, according to the organization Child Care Aware of America. If your child is part of this statistic, you probably want to do everything you can to make the most of this awesome early education experience. How can you maximize what your child is doing and learning every day she's away? Check out these easy ways to understand what's going on during her day and carry it into your home.
Impromptu Teacher Conference
You don't have to wait until a formal conference is scheduled to talk to your child's day care teacher. While pulling her aside during drop-off or pick-up may not give you much time to talk, you can send a brief email, call or ask in person if there's a moment when the two of you can chat. This doesn't have to be a sit-down conference. Instead, take a few moments whenever you both have time to ask what your child is doing during the day and what you can do to help out at home.
It seems like your child is bringing home thousands of papers every day. There are finger paintings, crayon drawings, printed letters and so much more. Take what you see coming home and extend it. Don't worry, there's no need to have a degree in early childhood education just to do some pre-k schoolwork at home. For example, if your child used finger paints to mix colors at school, give her red, blue and yellow (the primary colors) of tempera paint and a piece of paper. She'll know what to do.
Reading books is part of every child's day care experience. Ask your child's teacher what they're reading ay school or if there's a specific theme that they're tackling. Choose books based on what the teacher suggests. Or, you can let your child pick out a few of her favorites at the local library. Curl up with your kiddo and read to her in a comfy place at home. Instead of reading at her, make this activity interactive. Ask questions, invite your child to point out the pictures and talk about what's happening in the book.
When your child goes to day care she's not just getting an early education. Your child is also building social and emotional skills. This happens as she meets new children and interacts with them. Keep this experience going at home with a pre-k playdate. Invite a few friends from school (and their parents) over for a weekend afternoon of fun.
The learning doesn't end when your child leaves day care. Talk to your little one's teacher, and ask what the class is focusing on. Get specific and find out what your little learner truly enjoys about her time at child care. Take these ideas home and get active, making art, reading books and playing with new friends.