Ensure That Your Child Is Ready to Learn

Make sure your child’s:

  • Physical needs are met with a healthy diet, enough sleep and rest, exercise and good medical care;
  • Social and emotional needs are met;
  • Confidence, independence and cooperation skills are built;
  • Discipline is appropriate and consistent;
  • Play is stimulating;
  • Questions are answered;
  • Caregiver or preschool teacher has books to read to your child and does read to your child every day; and
  • Day is filled with different learning activities.

Know what your preschooler needs.

Babies need:

  • Loving parents or caregivers who respond to their cries or noises;
  • To feel safe and comfortable;
  • To hear and make sounds;
  • To move around;
  • To be able to play in safe areas; and
  • To play with safe toys.

Toddlers need:

  • Activities that allow them to use their muscles;
  • To experience their senses and develop language skills;
  • To work with their hands;
  • To learn to do things for themselves;
  • To play with other children;
  • To continue to learn about their movements;
  • To build their vocabulary;
  • To learn about their surroundings; and
  • Opportunities to make choices within limits that you set.

4- and 5-year-olds need:

  • More books, games and songs;
  • Chances to do science, math and art activities;
  • To build their self-reliance and language skills; and
  • To become aware of the world and people around them.

Introduce babies and toddlers (birth to 2 years) to language.

  • Talk to your baby or toddler often. Talk to your infant during feeding; look at family photographs and tell your child about the pictures; or tell the baby what you see out the window—a bird, bus, cars.
  • Show your baby things, name them and talk about them.
  • Encourage babbling or your toddler’s trying to say words.
  • Sing songs and read nursery rhymes.
  • Read aloud each day, even if it’s just for a short time.
  • Have your child handle books—books made especially for babies or toddlers, such as interactive books (lift-the-flap or touch-and-feel). This will help your child with motor skills and language development.

Introduce young children (3-5 years) to language.

  • Talk to your young child often and encourage your child to speak by asking questions and talking about what happened during the day.
  • Show your child new things, making sure you name them, and teach your child new words every day.
  • Read aloud each day, even if it is just for a short time.
  • Teach your child the alphabet.
  • Check your local public library for books made especially for 3- to 5-year-olds. 

U.S. Department of Education, Office of Communications and Outreach, Parent Power: Build the Bridge to Success, Washington, D.C., 2010