Ready Set School Blog

Bullying in Kindergarten

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Bullying behavior often starts in kindergarten. Bullies have fun pestering a specific peer using a broad range of negative behaviors. These may range from hiding shoes, destroying a picture, saying nasty things, refusing to sit beside the targeted child, to beating, throwing stones and the like. Bullies do not often use physical means to aggress their victim and seem to be rather manipulative knowing very well whom they can aggress against without retaliation, where they can do it unobserved, and even how to get peers to assist them. They feel powerful, like Eric, 6 years old, who used to say: “I’m the boss here”.

Studies indicate that about 6% of kindergarten children can be categorized as passive victims, children who are victimized by the bully and some other peers (the bully’s assistants) on a regular basis and who do not retaliate when attacked. Teachers often tell us that these young victims are very kind children. In our research, we find that these kindergarteners usually share belongings, help and console their peers, even if although they do it less often than children who are never involved in bullying or victimized. These passive victims also seem to have difficulties asserting themselves, saying “No, I don’t want this!” Furthermore, they play alone more often than other children and seem to have difficulties making friends, approaching other children, asking peers to play, etc. Not surprisingly, we also find that these children have fewer friends and are less liked by peers than bullies or children who are not involved in bullying at all. It would be of great help for these children to gain more self-confidence in social relationships. For example, they may benefit from in training in assertiveness with non-aggressive peers. Also, every experience of that enhance their self-competence would be helpful to these children in order to minimize their vulnerability in the peer group.

Ways to Recognize and help your Child with Bullying


  • Bullying is unfair and adults must take it seriously as early as in kindergarten.
  • Be aware of social, indirect, hidden and ambiguous forms of bullying; they already occur in kindergarten.
  • Pay attention to symptoms and possible indicators of victimization, like unwillingness to go to kindergarten, stress or sadness
  • Listen to children when they report on “trivial” daily hassles that seem to upset them. It may be one of many hassles.
  • Talk with the children about “good and bad things” happening in the kindergarten group.
  • Talk about the unfairness of bullying and provide children with alternative behaviors
  • Teach children to say no!
  • Give children an opportunity to feel competent
  • Give children who feel insecure in situations with peers some social training
  • Use teaching forms and games that enhance integration of all children
  • Encourage children who are not involved in bullying to intervene when they witness such situations. They may be trained to tell the bully to stop, to ask the teacher to help or to include the victim in play situations.

Parents should never dismiss bulling behavior. If your child is being bullied talk to your child’s teacher. School districts often have an anti bullying policy. Find out what it is and insist that the school follow it.

Taken from Bullying Special Addition contributor Francoise Alsaker


To Start or not To Start: Should I Wait Another Year Before My Child Starts Kindergarten?

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In an article titled "When to Start Kindergarten? Suggestions for Parents" From the National Association of School Psychologists, the author states: "Although readiness is legally defined as reaching the age of five by a certain date, many parents and educators have become concerned that some kindergarten aged children seem socially or physically immature or lacking the skills to read, write and compute. When parents believe their child may struggle or fail in kindergarten, delaying entrance by one year has become a common practice, and some educators have recommended it. Over the past 20 years or so, delaying entrance to kindergarten by one year has become a common response, especially for boys who turn five within four or five months of the kindergarten cutoff date. This practice is not equally common in all schools, and its advisability depends, of course, on the individual child."

But is delaying entry into kindergarten the answer? To start school at age 5 works well for most children, but of course there are individual situations where starting kindergarten at the prescribed time can depend on the child.

According to the article, delaying entrance into kindergarten may have no advantage, or could even possibly be one factor leading to a higher drop out rate:

A review of the research on delayed entrance and on children who are the youngest within their grade indicates that:

  • Delaying kindergarten until age six has not resulted in improvement in reading, writing or math skills;
  • At kindergarten and first grade, youngest children do score lower on achievement tests, but the difference tends to diminish as they move through school, usually disappearing by third grade (one researcher noted that six-year-olds should look more skilled than five-year-olds in kindergarten; they have been alive 20 percent longer!);
  • Delayed entrants at 4 to 12 years after entering school were no more academically skilled, athletically involved or socially successful than students who had entered kindergarten after just turning five-years-old;
  • Students who are one year "too old" for a grade level are much more likely to drop out of high school.

Before delaying entrance into kindergarten, first consider meeting with the child's teacher to discuss possible instructional modifications to meet your child's special needs and skill level. Also, you may want to ask about a formal assessment if your child has delays or learning disabilities. You may have preschool special education services that your child can benefit from. You may also wish to speak to other parents who have gone through a similar dilemma with one of their children. Ask them and see what they have to say about how things worked out for them.

Of course every child is different, and there may be situations where a child may benefit from starting a year later. As your child's first and most important teacher, you will need to assess the situation weighing your child's temperament, maturity, and skill level. If you do decide to start a year later, be sure to do plenty of kindergarten readiness activities - at least one daily - with your child to get him ready for the next school year! You can find kindergarten readiness activities here on our website by clicking the 'Activities' link on the menu bar at the top of this page.


How Do I Work with My Child if He Won’t Stay Still?

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by UPAT Parent Educator/Supervisor Connie Cook

Vernal Family Center

Literacy is a passion for me.  Always has been, always will be.  I have long realized that reading is everything related to learning. And that if you can incorporate learning literacy in fun ways when the child is very young; their ability to read then progresses almost naturally from those fun skills, into those that add more complex skills once they start school.

Early childhood professionals have long known the many benefits there are to physical activity, play, and learning. One thing they have keyed into is that young children are natural learners; that they need to move, and when they move they often learn along the way.

They often need to experience some concepts using their whole bodies to understand those concepts completely.  So how does literacy play a part in all of the fun? ~ Research shows that there are six pre-reading skills that must be acquired before a child can learn to read. What are the six early reading skills?

  1. Vocabulary - Knowing the names of things.
  2. Print motivation - Being interested in and enjoying books.
  3. Print awareness - Noticing print, how to handle a book, how to follow words on a page.
  4. Letter knowledge - Knowing letters are different from each other, knowing their names and sounds.
  5. Narrative Skills - Being able to describe things and events, and tell stories.
  6. Phonological awareness - Being able to hear and play with the smaller sounds in words.

Following are some ideas you could, and possibly should, use that incorporate movement and active learning to promote these early emergent literacy skills.

1. Babies and young children retain language better when it is based on repetition.  Finger- plays teach vocabulary. ~  These songs have repetition built in, and finger-plays are interactive, that keep the hands and fingers moving, and the songs help vocabulary to be retained better.

2.  Print Motivation ~ If you begin very soon after a baby is born, and “read” to them daily, as they become toddlers, then preschoolers; reading is a part of their routine.  Even if they run around as you read the story, they are still listening, and love the rhythm of your voice. “Stopping by” now and then, to have a “peek” at the pictures and words in the book.  Their interest in books increases very easily and naturally. But don’t stop reading; just because they won’t sit still.  Listening is an important literacy skill, as well, and who said you HAD to sit to listen; especially for little boys. They still learn about print in many other ways; environmental print is when they see words written in our communities, in the grocery stores as we run errands, at the Drs. Office, etc.  Just point words out to them.

3. Singing brings a natural awareness of words, Print Awareness, as each syllable or sound in a word gets a different note. Young children notice print, they often understand it links to words they hear; when they follow print to learned nursery rhymes it helps them to connect the words with the music.  Music is natural with most children; so as you sing the nursery rhyme with your child, show her the words in a book, they “read” along with you. Moving to a new word gives that word even more meaning to a young child.

4.  Letter knowledge ~ Learning the ABC (Alphabet) song when young, you can also teach them the letters with their bodies, or with ASL (sign) Language. Along the way you incorporate the letter name and letter sound. Even very young children love to “ggg” for the letter “g” and possibly act out the movements of an animal that starts with that letter.  Often they don’t even notice that they are learning.

5. As infants, toddlers, and preschoolers learn action songs and finger-plays, they are also learning narrative skills, as they understand what comes next in the song.  What fun it is to anticipate the “bzzz” of the bee in “Here is the Beehive”, or the “rain” falling in “Enzy, Wenzy Spider”, or “tickle time” in “This Little Piggy”.  Then they learn what fun “retelling” it with you is, then on their own as they “act” it out.


6.  Phonological Awareness ~ Adding music is a natural way to incorporate moving, and movements into some structured play, that helps them to understand how words are made up of different sounds. As you sing songs with them, syllables flow naturally with each note you sing; breaking down the different sounds the word makes.

VISIT: for more information on these reading skills.

But most of all . . .  let your child move around as they learn any new skill, when possible. That learning then has more meaning to him/her, and they will retain what they have learned better.  Using many areas of the brain simultaneously helps that learning to happen. You can’t stop your child from learning, but what they are learning can depend very much on you. So move with them, and have fun with your child at the same time; maybe both of you will learn something along the way.


Teaching Math to preschoolers

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by UPAT Parent Educator Barbara Rouse

“…5, 4, 3, 2, 1,  blastoff “ shouts the 4 year old boy as he takes his toy rocket and runs around the playroom pretending to go to outer space. Young children learn about numbers and math through their everyday activities. They learn math when they play with objects and people, solve problems, and make observations about their surroundings. Wise parents support their child’s learning by providing play materials for their child to experiment with. Children learn about shapes when they construct them from playdough, pipe cleaners, string, or crayons. They learn by playing with blocks or nesting containers. Children learn that parts make up the whole by playing with puzzles or toys that come apart. They learn about how numbers are used when their parents point out numbers to them as they go throughout their day. Children learn spatial sense or a feel for their surroundings and the objects in them when they run, climb, swing, slide, or play with blocks or puzzles.

Children need to experience numbers in many different ways to build their understanding of it. They need to connect the spoken number names to a variety of objects, pictures, and written number symbols. They need to understand the language of math-- the meaning of words such as same/different, more/less, many/few, etc. Children usually progress in their understanding of math from concrete (the actual objects), to pictorial (pictures of objects), to symbolic (numerals), and finally to abstract. It is helpful for them to see two toy trucks next to a picture of two trucks next to the symbol “2”.

What math concepts do young children need to understand before entering Kindergarten?

  • Count by rote from 1 to 10 or more
  • Counts out at least 5 objects
  • Tells if someone has “more” or “less” of something than they do
  • Draws some numbers
  • Describes objects as being under or over something; or on or off
  • Names and draws some shapes
  • Matches and sorts objects by color, size, shape, or use
  • Arranges stuffed animals or toys from smallest to largest
  • Repeats a pattern by color or size when stringing beads or arranging blocks
  • Points out when a story or routine is changed or out of order

The most important thing for parents to do is make it fun!


PAT Featured on

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Parents as Teachers, otherwise known as PAT, was featured on the website for the US Department of Education earlier this month! The article entitled "Parents As Teachers (PAT) Coordinator Offers Preschool Activity for Parents" was written by Erin Garner, a Parents as Teachers (PAT) Coordinator, in Leander, Texas.

It is great to see the PAT program getting this kind of exposure, especially since it is one of the types of programs that are federally funded which actually do save money for American taxpayers. The Perry Scope Preschool Project found that every dollar spent in early childhood education actually saves a little over 7 dollars in remedial educational services later on, which translates to a lot of money when you count those numbers for every child who enters kindergarten unprepared. In Utah, between 40 and 70 percent of kindergarten children are not well prepared for school according to a statewide survey of Utah kindergarten teachers.

PAT believes that education truly begins at home, and works to give parents the skills that they need to help their own children prepare for kindergarten. Ready!Set!School! is a project of Utah Parents as Teachers, and we recently sent out a questionnaire to kindergarten teachers of children who participated in our PAT program for at least one year prior to entering kindergarten. Over 70% of the children transitioning into kindergarten from our PAT program were ready, and most were in the top 1/3 of their class. The children who were not ready had come into our program with developmental delays.

In her article, Erin Garner outlines a way for parents to begin teaching their child letter recognition using the child's own first name. She says "Parents often ask me when is the right time to begin introducing letter recognition activities, what letters to start with, and how to go about teaching the ABCs in a meaningful and fun way.  I always suggest that parents start with what is important to their child…their name!"

To read the rest of this article, click this link to go to the US Department of Education's blog at


The Importance of Early Literacy: Rhyme and Reason

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by UPAT Parent Educator Sheila Chaney

Young children prepare to read long before they enter school. Early literacy is the songs you sing, the melody of your voice, and the books you read out loud. It’s everything children know about reading and writing before they can actually read and write. Remember, they will learn to read and write in school. But your job right now is to give them the love of learning. Best way to do that is Example, Example, and Example.

Children’s skills begin to develop in the first 5 years of life.  Their early childhood experiences with music, patterns, and books lay the foundation to success in learning to read and write. From day one they listen to all the sounds around them and feel startled or comforted by what they hear and see.

I know you have heard it over and over that you are your child’s first teacher. You keep hearing it because it is true. Reading, singing, and playing with your child is important to their development. Be silly and have fun, enjoy this beautiful time with them. (You’ll be so surprised later to see what a short moment it really is.) Talk and listen to your child and you will hear what they are learning from you.

Nursery rhymes are almost gone. Bring them back to life by reading them to your child. What are some of the songs you loved to hear as a child? Keep passing those gems on for generations.

Every chance, do some finger play, bells, and drums, anything with music with motion. It is fun for you and your child.

Your love for learning will be passed on to your child. Have an atmosphere of learning in your home and take time to learn yourself. Remember your child wants to learn from you.  Your voice is the music that they want to hear. They want you to read the same story over and over because they want to listen to you and learn.

Another great tip is to take your child to the library and introduce them to new books. Get one for you too! (Even if it is only a magazine) Reading to my children is one of my best memories. We own their favorite childhood book. Oh and surprise, it just happens to be my favorite book too.


When the Rain Comes Down it Comes Down on us All: Helping Children be Inclusive

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by Anji Sandage, Parent Educator

When my son started school, his anxieties that were caused because he doesn’t learn in the same way as other children effected the whole family, and maybe even the whole school! Special needs can range from severe disabilities to gifted alternative learners, which are children who are especially inquisitive and bright, but who learn differently from other children. Any of these situations are potential problems in an inclusive environment where children of all skill levels, with and without disabilities, participate and learn together in the same class - whether it be kindergarten, preschool, or even a playgroup in your community.

Schools used to keep children with special needs separate from the mainstream classroom so that they could avoid the challenges that come with an inclusive classroom environment, but over time, due to parental concerns, the educational system has changed strategies to include everyone in the same classroom together.  Here are key findings about the benefits of inclusion for children and families:

Parents' visions of a typical life for their children can come true.

All parents want their children to be accepted by their peers, have friends and lead "regular" lives. Inclusive settings can make this vision a reality for many children with disabilities and other special needs, where segregating children with special needs limits the benefits and opportunities that they would otherwise receive.

Children develop a positive understanding of themselves and others.

When children attend classes that reflect the similarities and differences of people in the real world, they learn to appreciate diversity.

Friendships develop.

Schools are important places for children to develop friendships and learn social skills. Children with and without special needs learn with and from each other in inclusive classes.

All children learn by being together.

Because the philosophy of inclusive education is aimed at helping all children learn, everyone in the class benefits. Children learn at their own pace and style within a nurturing learning environment.

(Excerpt from Inclusive Education By Leslie Soodak, Ph.D., and Elizabeth Erwin, Ed.D.)

Taking proactive measures  to make sure your child has a smooth transition is especially important when you have a child with special needs if you want to avoid much of the stress and worry that  a new school year can bring, especially if your child gets a teacher who is not very patient or understanding of your child’s unique differences.  Some things that you can do to help your child (and as a result you, your family, and your child’s teacher and other school personnel) make a smooth transition upon entering school, and at the start of every new school year are:

Visit with the principal/preschool director/playgroup coordinator and discuss your child’s needs before you start.

Find out about the teachers and if there is a teacher who would be the best match to work with your child. If you are going to be starting in a private preschool, talk to the preschool teacher. You may want to talk to several preschool teachers and find one that is a good fit for you and your child. If you are starting in a playgroup, you may want to talk to the other parents in the group, depending on what your child's special needs are.

Meet with your child’s teacher before the school year starts and discuss strategies and possible interventions (alternative learning strategies) that you know work well for your child.

Plan activities at home to support your child’s learning and/or make time to help your child with school work.

Parental involvement is the key indicator for successful learning, over and above any other circumstances. If your child has your support and you are playing an active role in your child’s education, then his chances of success are much greater, no matter what the teacher does in the classroom.

Take every possible chance you can to be in your child’s classroom.

If you can, volunteer as a teacher’s helper in your child’s classroom. If this is not possible, stop by the classroom periodically to observe, to talk to the teacher about your child’s progress, and to review what is working and what isn’t. Make sure that any discussions with the teacher are held either before or after class when you will not be causing a disruption that will effect the learning of other students in the classroom.


Because I’m Your Daddy’s Wife: The Unique Challenges and Gifts of Being a Step Mom

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by Michelle Richards, UPAT Parent Educator

Being a parent comes with continual challenges and rewards. Being a stepmom adds a new dimension to your parenting that requires some forethought and skills.  As a stepmom, you may face difficultly fitting into your new family.  It’s important that you and your spouse decide together the best way for you to be involved as a stepparent. For example, in our step-family, we learned that taking on a less “parental” role initially worked well for us. Even though we cared for each others children, as in any new relationship, it took  time to get to know each other, to build trust and love, and especially, for the children to come to realize we were both there to stay. There was a lot of trial and error, but we eventually settled into a rhythm that worked well, though it took continual adjusting. It’s a lot of work, but it is well worth the effort.  Here are a few suggestions:

1.     Your role is not to over shadow your step children’s mother. No matter  what the situation is, treat and speak of her respectfully. Spend time getting to know each stepchild without competition from the biological parent relationships.  Share an interest or skill that your stepchild may be interested in. This will allow a relationship to develop that will be beneficial to you both.

2.     Be clear and consistent with “our family” rules that you and your husband agree upon. Give yourself time to learn what those are. Communicate often as parents to chart out this new territory. Include the children as much as possible. For example, ask “What kind of family do we want to be?” “Who will be responsible for what?” What are some fun things we can do together?” “How should we treat each other?” “What can we count on?”

3.     Hold realistic expectations of yourself. Resist the myth that you will automatically love your stepchildren or that they will love you. Both of you likely will have come from experiences of significant loss. Aim for mutual respect and wait for love to develop naturally.

4.     Let the children decide what to call you. Our children chose to call their stepparent by their first name.

5.     Leave the disciplining role to the biological parent. As respectful relationships form, the time may come that you can successfully share this role with your spouse.  Take a parenting class together and take an approach that fits your family’s needs.

6.     Don’t play favorites. You will naturally feel a closer bond with your own children than your stepchildren, but you must separate your actions from your feelings if you want to build connections with your stepchildren. Even though real caring may not have developed yet, show equal respect and consideration.

7.     Show interest in and be involved in your stepchildren’s school, religion, sports, etc. Look for ways to send messages of love and trust to them. Find ways to tell them you are proud of them.

Children will always benefit from genuine love. So do adults. I appreciated it so much when my children’s stepmother called or wrote to me in an effort to establish a positive relationship and inquired how she could best serve my children. It made all the difference and made a challenging situation easier.  Your efforts to make your home a safe, loving and respectful environment where there is room to learn and make mistakes is an invaluable gift to your family. You can be a positive influence in the lives of your stepchildren. Choose to be a good role model and a resource of goodness that they can look to and draw from. Your rewards will come unexpectedly, but will be well worth the effort. My four stepchildren are adults now, with their own children. My life is richer and fuller for having them in my life.  After 20 years we continue to build on our relationship and find ways to be a stronger family.


Being Involed in Your Grandchildrens' Lives

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Being a grandparent that is involved in their grandchildren’s lives can be tricky. If parents and grandparents don’t want to end up driving the children nuts, there needs to be open communication about everyone’s roles before the children arrive. Some young moms may want their mothers right at their side, guiding and directing them with the new baby; yet the young dad may not want his mother-in-law in the house for more than a couple of hours each day. Alternately, many young fathers would like their own mother in the house to help out while the young mom wants nothing of the kind. These issues must be discussed calmly and openly before the baby arrives. The parents must come to an agreement and then explain to the grandparents what they want or don’t want. If a young couples disagrees, the grandparents should back off and stay out of it.

Parents and grandparents alike need to compromise and show grace. Parents would do well to remember that they were raised by their parents and turned out alright. They can set boundaries, but they also should give the grandparents the opportunity to bond with the child. Grandparents, being the older and potentially wiser of the two parties, should remember how it feels to be a young parent, and give the parents the space or help they need.

In the end, it is the grandparents who are the outsiders. If they want a meaningful relationship with their grand children, it will have to be on the parents’ terms and rightly so. The parents are ultimately responsible for the children and have the right to set down rules and expect them to be followed. If grandparents ignore the rules or undermine the parents to the children, it will only serve to sever the relationship and cause everyone a world of hurt.

Grandparents, respect your children as adults and as parents. Know that you did a fine job with them and they can handle parenthood without your interference; of course, if they need your help, try to be available without being a crutch or controller. Parents, respect your own parents and let them love your children. Know that they did a fine job with you and that they love your children almost as much as you do.

Taken from an article titled “Grandparent and Parent Relationships.


Grand Parenting with Little Cost

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Connie Cook, UPAT Parent Educator

Studies have shown that what most children want is not “things”; but “time” with the ones that mean the most to them.

Some of the best time you can spend with your grandkids happens without planning. If you are fortunate enough to have grandchildren living close by, you are aware that, there are times; they just show up at your door.  Or if they live out-of-town, they may come for a visit to your home; you may try to sneak in a bit of work, your grandchild comes in and just starts up a conversation with you.

Do you have a golden opportunity or an interruption? How you react will help define your relationship with your grandchild. So, let’s say, you take the opportunity to truly engage in the conversation, coming eye-to-eye with them, commenting, asking questions and discussing ~ all the time “building” that bonding.  Soon the child is off again, and you have an overwhelming feeling of joy at just what took place, so unplanned. No matter what time you spend with them, 5 minutes or 25 minutes, becomes quality “time” for them, and for you.

So here are a few more ideas to draw from that can allow some other quality time for both of you, and they don’t cost much more than your time, (for most of the ideas):

1.      Be a tourist in your own town ~ or your grand child’s town.

2.     Star Gaze ~ talk about the constellations.

3.     Schedule a visit to the local library; for some quiet time to read together, take turns reading to each other, Choose a book with no words & make up the story. Check for other events that the library may offer.

4.     At your home, or at theirs, take special opportunities to play games. ( is a great resource for fun family time ideas and games.)

5.     Dance together; make homemade instruments and play them; or listen to “children’s” music ( has free downloadable songs, sheet music, and words to her very simple but fun songs.

6.     Watch for musicals, artistic or spiritual events hosted various groups, or “blossoming” performers.  Schools often have performances that may have a day to present their performance at no cost.

7.     If you have a Parks and Recreation Department or a National Park near you, they may offer activities you can join. You may want to check with the local Chamber of Commerce for less advertised activities in your area.

8.     Visit local Zoos, Museums or some less frequented places.

9.     Letterboxing/or geo-texting are both fairly “new age” activities.  Surf the internet to find out more about these, and to discover if there are any available in your area.  Fun for all ages.

10.   Go for bike rides, take walks together just to talk, letting your grandchild take the lead in what is discussed.

11.    Try taking a “detective walk”, look for interesting out-of-the-ordinary objects as you go along, and after you have collected several ~ weave together an entertaining story with all of the objects you “discovered”. (You may wish to wear gloves, or have hand sanitizer.)

12.   Garden together; maybe offer a small spot that is just for your grandchild to grow whatever they would like, especially if they can visit often enough to “tend” the garden.

13.   Collect old greeting cards, the fronts of cereal boxes, or a full page picture from a magazine. With assistance, especially for the very young, help them cut out a puzzle, then put it together.

14.   Take a regular size paper plate, tape a regular paint stick to the back of it, blow up a balloon, then “bat” the balloon around.  For additional fun, make one for yourself. Create a fun game.

15.   Spend some time in the kitchen ~ (Kitchen time often takes a bit more planning than being spontaneous, you both may become quite creative. Besides helping you, they could learn some “science” skills [transforming ingredients into something else] and “math” skills [measurements] at the same time. If they are younger, pouring, sifting, dumping, stirring, are all skills that help them develop.)

16.   Take part in local festivals, celebrations, holiday festivities, or other cultural activities that may differ from your background ~ exploring “new worlds” together. Learning about new places, and even new foods (another kitchen idea).

17.    Crafts are almost always a hit, especially if the craft itself is fairly simple, so that the child does not become frustrated or bored. An older child my like to learn a new skill along with the “crafting”; beading is fun for most ages. Using either beads, or noodles, or cereal. Plastic boondoggle works for all ages, or a pipe cleaner.


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