What should be preschoolers be doing over the summer?

Parents sometimes ask what their child can do over the summer to help them retain what was learned during the school year. The answer may not be what you think it is. For preschoolers, the skills they are working on are mostly not academic in nature. Worksheets and flashcards are not on this list.

Here are some of the best things you can do to help your child prepare for preschool:

  • Plan time into your daily routine for your child to dress and undress independently, including putting on socks and shoes. Name body parts and left and right sides as they dress. If they express frustration, help them by reminding them what they can do, like: 
            "Hold your sleeve, then pull your arm in." 
            "Put your thumbs inside your pants, squeeze with our fingers, then pull up in the front and back."

  • Allow time for your child to help open and close food containers, zip lock bags, bags with zippers and snaps, and draw string bags. If they cannot yet open food packaging, then start a rip and allow them to open it the rest of the way.

  • Practice taking turns with your child. Use complete sentences to ask for a turn and encourage them to use complete sentences when asking for a turn. Tell them if it their turn or not when they ask to play. Practice using an item your child wants and have them wait for their turn while you play for a short time. 

  • Have your child help with self help tasks and chores. They can brush their teeth, brush their hair, wash their face, cut soft food with a butter knife, spread butter or jam on toast, put dirty laundry in the hamper or basket and to put clean, folded clothes into the drawers, put toys into bins, wiping the table and counters, and even help rub in sun screen on their arms & legs (don't forget to wipe their hands afterward so they don't get sunscreen in their eyes). 

  • Take time to have conversations with indoor voices (appropriate volume), open ended questions, full sentence responses, on topic conversation, and calmly facing one another. You can encourage longer responses by asking questions like, "And then?" "Tell me more." "How?" 

  • Model identifying your feelings and describing what you will do when you feel that way. 

  • Read books and play board games

  • Play outdoors and in new environments. Allow time for risky, dirty, and difficult play. This allows them to learn limits, develop executive function skills, expand their sensory pallet, and develop gross motor and vestibular system. Any activity that allows them to cross the mid-line or use arms & legs synchronously is excellent: walking with 1 foot on a step up and down stairs, skipping, playing with dough or slime, baking and cooking, climbing on rocks/trees/playground equipment, swimming, dancing, riding a pedal bike.

To sum it up neatly: They need to play, read, take care of themselves and their things, and talk about what is going on around them.

If your child is having a difficult time doing these things, please let your child's teacher know. They will take that into consideration when doing developmental screenings and progress reports. They may have suggestions for activities that will help your child or refer you to a specialist.