Prepare Your Toddler for Preschool

Checking Out the Shape of Things

BRAIN-BOOSTING ACTIVITY: Checking Out the Shape of Things

Stacking blocks, doing puzzles, and playing with objects of different shapes and sizes are key ways to help your child learn about spatial relationships, geometry, and other pre-math concepts. "Children are sensory-oriented, and they learn through their body, so they need to physically feel the shape of a triangle or discover that one block is different than two by holding them to understand the abstract concept of shapes and numbers," says McAdam. So give your kid a pile of toddler-friendly Lego Duplo bricks or some brightly colored nesting cups to play with on the living-room floor. While you're busy in the kitchen, let him stack Tupperware or sort spoons. Then ask questions: "Which container is bigger? Which cup fits in this bowl?"

BRAIN-BOOSTING ACTIVITY: Discovering Nature

Exploring the natural world is an ideal way for toddlers to learn the fundamentals of science. For example, teaching your child about biology could be as easy as putting a goldfish in a bowl where she can observe it or planting seeds in a window box so she can witness the life cycle of a plant. "Pay attention to what she's interested in, and use that as a springboard for learning," McAdam suggests. If your child is captivated by dirt or rocks, go outside and do some digging, while asking questions like, "What does the soil feel and smell like? Is that pebble smooth? Does it make a sound when it drops?" The more you teach your child to use her senses, the more you're helping her become a trained observer, like a scientist, Seldin says.

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