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12 Things Your Child Will Learn in Preschool and How to Encourage Them from Home

Preschool is a wonderful learning time for your toddler.

So many new friends will be made and a host of new skills will be acquired.Looking back at the end of the year, you’ll be so surprised at all of the changes your child has gone through.

But what exactly will they be doing in the classroom? And how can you as a parent encourage their learning from home?

Based on my experience as a social worker and mom, I’ve rounded up 12 important things your child will learn and included tips for encouraging them. Here’s to a great year of preschool!


  • Social Skills 1 of 12
    Social Skills
    Of all the skills children learn in a preschool environment, how to interact with peers is among the most important. At this age they learn primarily through play, exploring how to have their needs met and how to meet the needs of others around them.

    At home tip: You can help support your toddler as he learns social skills by playing family, playing with dolls and other toys, and by modeling appropriate behavior. Remember, siblings are peers, too!
  • How to Sit Still 2 of 12
    How to Sit Still
    Structured preschool environments condition children to wait their turns, listen when being spoken to, and at times, sit still for brief periods. These skills help them learn appropriate ways to behave in other environments, most notably, kindergarten and grade school.

    At home tip: Play "circle time" with your child. Invite him to sit on the carpet and listen as you read a short book, and to interact with you while sitting calmly. Positive reinforcement goes a long way at this age so remember to praise your child.
  • Gross Motor Skills 3 of 12
    Gross Motor Skills
    Improving gross motor skills like jumping, climbing, and catching objects is an important task of the toddler years. In preschool your child will dance, play physical games, and spend time on the playground which will all improve her coordination and physical abilities.

    At home tip: play games with your child, such as asking him to see how many hops it takes to get from one end of the hallway to the other, or simply to catch balls of different sizes in the backyard.
  • Counting Objects and Number Concepts 4 of 12
    Counting Objects and Number Concepts
    These are the skills that lay the foundation for mathematics. In preschool your child will learn to count and begin to understand groups and number patterns.

    At home tip:You can support learning at home by asking him to sort items by color or size, using manipulatives in play, and working with patterns.
  • Increasing Independence 5 of 12
    Increasing Independence
    Preschool allows your child to experience a world separate from family life. In the classroom he'll be given responsibilities such as being the "class helper" for the day, which will increase confidence.

    At home tip: Allow you child to make some decisions for herself, like selecting clothing. Ask your child to help you with household tasks, like setting the table or bringing her dirty clothes to the laundry room.
  • Letter Recognition 6 of 12
    Letter Recognition
    Letter recognition is a critical part of encouraging literacy.

    At home tip: Help prepare your child for reading by asking her to trace letters of the alphabet with her finger, or plan activities around a letter of the day theme. The learning possibilities are endless!
  • Conflict Resolution 7 of 12
    Conflict Resolution
    Conflict resolution is a critical part of social skills. In preschool your child will be encouraged to work out problems with other children, and use appropriate behavior to get needs met. Your child will learn to find acceptable solutions for everyone, and to apologize when necessary.

    At home tip: It's the parent's job to model conflict resolution to children. When problems arise between siblings or friends at home, use the opportunity to have your child offer potential solutions instead of simply directing the children. You might be surprised by what they come up with!
  • How to be Part of a Group 8 of 12
    How to be Part of a Group
    Toddlers learn about working together in preschool through cooperative play, art projects and more. It helps them understand that each member of a team can make important contributions.

    At home tip: Help your child understand the value of teamwork by doing activities together as a family, such as puzzles or even community service.
  • How to Follow One and Two Step Directions 9 of 12
    How to Follow One and Two Step Directions
    Preschool teachers give children simple instructions that boost their self esteem and confidence. By age 2, your child should be able to understand instructions such as "Put the crayons away and find a seat at the table." These types of instructions help prepare children for kindergarten.

    At home tip: Work with your toddler on following one and two step instructions, and remember to praise her for following through!
  • That Doing Things Differently is Ok 10 of 12
    That Doing Things Differently is Ok
    Each child comes to preschool with his own background and ways of doing things. It's a great place to learn that being different and doing things in different ways is a good thing!

    At home tip: In addition to talking to your child about diversity, show him alternate ways to accomplish tasks through play.
  • How to Form Relationships with Non Family Members 11 of 12
    How to Form Relationships with Non Family Members
    One of the most important aspects of preschool for children is learning to for relationships with their teachers. If they've previously been at home with you, they may have limited experience with other adults. It's important that they know before kindergarten that they can form meaningful, trusting relationships with people other than their family members.

    At home tip: Encourage your child's relationship with teachers by speaking positively of them and talking with them about your own experiences with teachers.
  • How to Try New Things 12 of 12
    How to Try New Things
    Preschool is a great way for toddlers to try new ways of doing things. This help children develop critical thinking skills.

    At home tip: Praise your toddler for her willingness to try new things, and give her many opportunities for experimentation with new foods, games, and other experiences.
    Photo Credit: Pink Sherbet Photography/Flickr

Mary Lauren Weimer is a social worker turned mother turned writer. Her blog, My 3 Little Birds, encourages moms to put down the baby books for a moment and tell their own stories. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

More by Mary Lauren:

Back to School Baggie Binders: My Secret Weapon for Finally Becoming Organized

Toddler Packing 101

An Alphabet of Preschool Snack Ideas

MORE ON BABBLE:

The most age-inappropriate toddler gear (What were they thinking?!)
7 things you should never say to a toddler
25 things every kid should experience
20 everyday items my toddler finds fascinating
15 things NOT to do with your toddler

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