Birth-Five School Readiness

Learning at Home Activities

Interacting with your child at:

0-15 Months 85%

  • To encourage infant development, play with simple toys. Your baby can drop, roll and chew soft and colorful toys, such as stacking cubes, rattles and soft blocks.
  • Hold a brightly colored object, such as a plastic cup or rubber ducky above the baby’s face when he is lying on his back. Move it around slowly so that he can follow it with his eyes. Move it to the side to encourage him to roll over and reach it. When he reaches it, praise him and let him have the cup.
  • Play “peek-a- boo” with objects. Cover a ball with a blanket and encourage baby to scoot or crawl to uncover it by saying, “What’s under the blanket? It’s the red ball!” or “Where did your teddy bear go? Here it is!” Let baby have a turn hiding under the blanket and being “found.”
  • Use toys at bath time that float or sink. Splash and play with these water toys and always keep one hand on your baby during bath time. Kitchen items such as funnels, measuring cups/spoons and plastic containers are all great bath toys!
  • Babies love to look at themselves in the mirror. Provide child-safe mirrors for the car, stroller, changing area or in the play space.
  • Point and say, “Here is your nose, there is your mouth, I see your eyes …”
  • Make use of tummy time. When your baby is on her belly, hold the mirror in front of her and talk about what she sees. This will encourage her to lift her head in order to see herself.
  • Repeat lullabies, finger plays and games like pat-a-cake and peek-a-boo to help build language skills. Your baby loves the sound of your voice!
  • Read to your baby. Look at chunky board books with colorful pictures. Let baby hold the book and turn the pages. This builds a solid foundation for learning to read.
  • While reading, point out objects, shapes and colors and ask your baby what he thinks is happening in the book. Give him time to think about what he sees and to respond with his own sounds. You can borrow board books from the Appleton Public Library or another one in your area.

16-36 Months

Turn a walk into learning time.

  • Talk about things such as the colors of the leaves or cars or count the number of dogs you see.
  • Talk and listen. Here’s how: Ask questions about what you see, wait for her reply and then respond with more information. Your enthusiasm will encourage her to ask her own questions while introducing her to new words.
  • Repeat his words and add to them. If he says, “bird,” you can say, “Yes, that is a little bird in the tree.”
  • Visit your local public library. Check out new books to take home and look at together. Children’s librarians can help you find books and they often host special story times for toddlers. Library cards are free for everyone!

Sing a song!

  • Sing songs that help your child learn his body parts, such as “Head, shoulders, knees and toes.” Touch your own head, shoulders, knees and toes and have your child follow your lead.
  • Sing your way through routines. Take a familiar tune, such as “Row, row, row your boat,” and change the words to match your activities, such as “Brush, brush, brush your teeth.”
  • Sing to get through boredom or frustration. Waiting for a bus or getting bundled up goes more quickly if you’re singing a favorite tune or making up a silly song. Try, “This is the way we put on our coats, put on our coats, put on our coats, this is the way we put on our coats early in the morning.” You can use it for “brush our teeth, put on our hats, wait for the bus, climb the stairs,” etc. Your child loves repetition, so it’s okay if you only know a few songs and sing them again and again.

Help your child learn new ways to move her body.

  • Hold her under the arms and “jump” her off the bottom step. Then hold her hand as she tries to do it. In the beginning she may just step off, but eventually she will really jump.
  • You can play “catch” with your toddler! Both of you sit on the ground facing each other with your legs apart and toes touching. Roll a ball back and forth to each other.
  • Toddlers love to climb! On a walk, stop at a playground and help your child climb safely on the toddler structure.
  • Let him finish. Encourage your child to finish tasks you start for him. For example, start to wash his hands, but let him finish rinsing. He can finish zipping his coat, putting a few toys away and so on.

3-4 Years

  • Look at your child’s baby pictures together: Talk about how your child has grown and changed! Let your child tell you about all the things she can do now that she could not do as a baby. Remember that even “big kids” need to cuddle.
  • Have an indoor family picnic. Plan an easy-to-make menu and select a theme. For a “Winter Wonderland,” you can use sheets for snow and pillows for a snowman.
  • Play pretend and dress-up. Your child can learn about the world around him by pretending to cook dinner, go to work or school or visit the doctor. Fill a bin with old hats, scarves, shoes, bags and other props for your child to use while playing pretend.
  • Read books about your child’s interests.

5 Years/Kindergarten

  • Spend time with peers. Ensure that your child has lots of opportunities to socialize with groups of children her own age to help her practice sharing, taking turns, exercise self control and more. If your child is not enrolled in a preschool program, try joining a free playgroup or library story time or plan regular visits with friends or neighbors with children of similar ages.
  • Visit your child’s new school together. This is a great opportunity to meet the principal and kindergarten teacher and tour the school.
  • If you can, visit the school several times during the summer and let your child play at the playground to become familiar with the school before September.
  • Create routines. Have a set bedtime and wake-up time and stick to it. This helps children know what to expect and ensures that they get enough rest. Create a morning routine and practice getting ready for school a few times before school starts.
  • Read books about going to school so he can start thinking about his own big day, but also continue to read other types of books with your child just for pleasure.