What Should Preschoolers Learn?

what should preschoolers learn

ABC. 123.

That’s what matters most in preschool, right? You want your child to be able to read, write, and do math so she’ll be ahead once she starts kindergarten.

Right?

Well, that’s only a small part of it.

While literacy and math are extremely important parts of your preschooler’s academic development, they don’t tell the whole story. Preschool is actually a critical time for your child to develop their whole self. A high-quality preschool will work on developing the whole child in the following ways:

How to Learn

We spend our whole lives learning, and preschool is where your child’s foundation begins. This is where your child develops their attitude towards school, where they determine if they are good learners or not, and where they learn if they have what it takes to figure out problems. Spoiler alert! Every child is a good learner and has what it takes to overcome challenges. The trick is to help your child keep their zest for learning.

A high-quality preschool knows how to keep learning active, engaging, fun, and age-appropriate. Play is a critical component of your child’s development and education, and preschool gives your child the chance to learn through play.

Character Development

What do we do when we want a turn? What do we do if we’re upset with someone? How do we divide and share resources? How do we solve a problem? How do we tell the truth? Take responsibility? Show compassion for others?

Preschool gives children plenty of opportunities to practice, make mistakes, fix mistakes, and get it right. It’s the perfect setting for children to really begin to build the foundation for a strong character.

Creative Arts

what should preschoolers learn

“Children engaged in creating art express their feelings constructively, not destructively,” says Sydney Gurewitz Clemens, consultant for childhood education, teacher, and organizer of San Francisco Classroom Teachers’ Association.

Children thrive when they can express themselves through art. Open-ended art materials and a supportive environment at preschool allows your child to explore their feelings in safe and healthy ways.

Plus, art helps children develop hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and increases creativity and imagination.

Language and Literacy

The ability to read and write allows children to communicate more clearly, and builds a confidence and thirst for knowledge. In preschool, your child gets to develop a love for reading and take charge of their own interests. Plus, children have opportunities all day to build their vocabulary and communication skills through talking, playing, listening, and interacting.

Math

Numbers. Shapes. Measurements. Patterns. Sorting. None of us are born hating math, but many of us develop a distaste for the subject. When a preschool integrates math throughout their teaching, it gives your child an early confidence, interest, and understanding in math.

Science and Engineering

what should preschoolers learn

Why? How?

These questions are always on your preschooler’s mind, and science and engineering answer them.

Science and engineering are everywhere, and at this time of life when your preschooler is fascinated by everything, it’s a great time for your child to learn how the world works by watching caterpillars emerge from chrysalises,  see a seed grow into a pumpkin, use ramps to change the speed of cars, and so much more.

Social Studies

Preschoolers learn to appreciate people and their differences, to understand their place in the world, how to resolve conflicts, and more. Supportive teachers help children to see how to think of others and how to appreciate different traditions and ideas.

 

Physical Development

what should preschoolers learn

Creative movement opportunities let your child build their physical strength while also building memory, increasing concentration, and more. Coordination, large motor skills, rhythm, expression, emotion, and balance are all improved when a preschool includes physical development in its curriculum.

Music

The world is so much better because music is in it. And your child benefits in countless ways when music is a part of his preschool curriculum. Language skills, social skills, academic retention, listening skills, discipline, concentration, and so much more are developed through a music education. Plus, many preschools use music to teach concepts, like the days of the week, the life cycle of insects, and much more.

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, we spend time in all of these areas each and every day. We know that preschool is a critical time to help your child develop her whole self, and we feel honored to be a part of that journey. If you’d like to learn more about what we do, give us a call at (801) 523-5930, or contact us online for a tour.

 

How to Take Your Preschooler to a Museum

Sure, you don’t have any reservations about taking your preschooler to a children’s museum. Those places are designed with kids in mind; every display screams “TOUCH ME! TOUCH ME WITH ALL OF YOUR BODY!”

But what about an art museum? Have you braved the quiet, still, cavernous rooms filled with priceless works of art, or are you telling yourself you’ll try an art museum visit when your kids are older?

You don’t need to wait until your child reaches a certain age or milestone to visit an art museum. In fact, your preschooler will get heaps of education and experience from the visual stimulation, interactions with you, and lessons in appropriate behavior in a museum right now.

Don’t put it off. Use these tips to make the experience at an art museum with your preschooler an enjoyable (and manner-filled) one for both of you.

Ahead of Time

A museum trip for anybody is made better by doing a little prep work, and when preschoolers are involved, the more you do ahead of time, the better your trip is likely to go.

Study up

Before you head to the museum, spend some time on its website so you can become familiar with the current exhibitions. This will help you know the highlights, and you’ll also see some pieces of art that might be of particular interest to your child.

Most importantly, you’ll know something about what you’re going to see. This will help you to point out interesting facts or images that relate to your child, keeping her engaged while at the museum.

Show Your Child

Show your child a little bit of what you’ve learned on the museum’s website. Print out a few images you know you’ll see and point out the shapes, colors, or other big ideas about the artwork. When your child sees the actual artwork in person, he’ll be thrilled he knows something about it.

Talk About Manners

The last thing you want is for your preschooler to run screaming through the museum, touching everything in her path. Have a brief conversation about museum manners. You can compare it to a library or church.

“When we go to the museum, we need to use our library voices and our quiet walking feet. This helps everyone to enjoy the art.”

At the Museum

So you’ve prepared. You know a thing or two about what you’re going to see, you’ve told your child about what to expect, and your child knows how to behave. How can you make sure all this works out to an enjoyable museum trip? You are attending the museum with an unpredictable preschooler, after all.

Play I Spy

Most children won’t give the paintings more than a cursory glance, unless someone shows them how to do it. Playing fun, interactive games with the paintings gets kids involved — and keeps them that way.

I Spy is a simple-enough way to get started. “I spy a yellow hat. I spy a gray animal.” Your child can point or quietly move to the painting once he spots the spied item. When he tells you what he spies, he’ll be examining the paintings even closer.

Copy the Poses

We can’t wait to try this great idea from My Kids’ Adventures. Have your child try to imitate a pose they see in a painting or sculpture. This not only helps kids wiggle in a place that is quite still, it keeps the kids looking at the paintings longer than they otherwise would. And they may notice quite a bit more than you expected.

Draw or Photograph the Art

If photography is allowed in the museum, your preschooler will be thrilled to take photos of her favorite pieces. You can even send her on a photo hunt, giving her specific items to look for in the paintings (an animal, a baby, something blue, something silly, someone sad, someone happy…)

If photography is not allowed, give your child a small sketchbook and a pencil. Ask him to sit on a bench in every other room and copy his favorite painting or sculpture.

Bring Something to Touch

how to take a preschooler to a museum

You know your preschooler may have trouble with the strict no-touch rule in the museum. Why not bring something your child can touch? If you’re going to an exhibition of ballerina paintings, bring some ballet shoes to hold. If you’re going to an exhibition of landscapes, perhaps a fake flower would be soothing to hold.

Time It Right

Head to the museum before the meltdowns of nap time and the hangry pangs of lunchtime. If you can get to the museum early, you’ll likely encounter fewer people, your child will be well-rested, and nobody will be screaming for a snack (yet). Plan on two hours as your maximum.

Be Flexible

Don’t expect to see everything. A preschooler’s attention won’t last all day. If you have a favorite painting you want to see, go there first. Be willing to take breaks when needed. Bring snacks (but head to the cafeteria or outside to eat them). It’s okay if you only see one exhibition or one floor. You don’t want to tire out and bore your child. You want to see just enough to keep your child interested and involved.

 

Bring It Home

how to take a preschooler to a museum

Keep talking about what you saw at the museum. If you were solo parenting at the museum, encourage your child to tell the other parent about her favorite painting, the silliest thing she saw, or the happiest or saddest thing she saw.

Do an art project that relates to something you saw.

Check out children’s books about museums from the library and look through them together.

Don’t be surprised if your preschooler remembers very little. It’s hard for him at this stage to articulate everything he experienced.

And don’t worry if your preschooler had a meltdown, didn’t love the museum, or tired out sooner than you thought she would. Not everyone is destined to love museums, but everyone can find something to enjoy. As you continue to keep art in your life, and continue to visit museums, your child’s enjoyment will grow.

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we know that art is a valuable tool for your child’s emotional well-being. It also refines visual perception and fine motor skills, increases creativity and imagination, and helps your child develop an appreciation of his surroundings. That’s why our students engage in art projects every single day, along with our seven other areas of focus. Call us for more information about our preschool program at (801) 523-5930.

5 Art Activities for Your Preschooler’s Developing Mind

 

When was the last time you felt the cool ooze of paint between your fingers as it spread across the page? Or had the exhilaration of watching bright yellow and spring green twirl and twist at the gliding of your fingertips? But who has time to play in colorful finger-paints?  

As fun as playing in finger-paints can be, its value extends beyond “fun,” especially in the preschooler’s developing mind. The benefits of art activities for preschoolers extend into all aspects of a child’s learning, and your participation as their parent or caregiver plays a role.

“It’s very encouraging for children to know that their parents are willing to participate in activities with them,” says Adrianne Russell, a Kansas City, Missouri-based arts consultant, “especially if it’s something the adults have never done before or have little experience with.”

“Painting, drawing or sculpting forces us to stop multitasking and focus on the project at hand, as well as the person we’re doing it with,” writes Grace Hwang Lynch, for PBS Parents.

One added benefit to art activities for preschoolers is that they keep those little munchkins busy! “Children engaged in creating art express their feelings constructively, not destructively,” says Sydney Gurewitz Clemens, consultant for childhood education, teacher and organizer of San Francisco Classroom Teachers’ Association.

With those long summer days, we can all use a few “constructive” ideas. Here are five fun art activities for preschoolers you can do at home for your munchkin’s developing mind.

1- Zebra Resist Finger-paint

A little messy, but definitely delicious. Let your child tear painter’s tape into strips and then press them down onto a paper plate.  Make a small box of chocolate pudding and let it set.  Scoop a spoonful of pudding onto the plate and let the cool yummy goodness glide beneath your fingers.  Licking encouraged.  When pudding has dried, peel the painter’s tape off.  

art activities for preschoolers

Developmental Benefits: Small-motor skills are developed as tape is torn and placed on the plate.  Language develops as your child discusses how the pudding feels, tastes, and looks as you discuss the outcome of the tape resist.  Decision making is required as your child chooses how to tear the tape, where to place it, and how to move their hands to create thickness/thinness in the pudding.  

2- Summer Collage

Have your child choose pictures that remind him of things he loves to do in the summer.  Tear or cut them out of newspapers, magazines, pictures he draws, or even pictures you print for him.  Allow him to organize them on a large paper (8×10 is fine) and then give him a quarter-size puddle of glue on a paper or in a milk lid. Let him paint the glue to his picture with a finger, paint brush or Q-tip, and then paste them to his large paper.  Remember there is no right or wrong way for him to place his collage. Upside down and sideways pictures are part of the process.  

Note on Scissors: Learning to cut is a challenging small-motor skill for young children.  If he is tired of using scissors, encourage your child to tear his pictures out, but keep practicing with those scissors.  

art activities for preschoolers

Developmental Benefits: Cutting, tearing, gluing and pasting are all small-motor skills that need coordination and muscle strength.  Planning where to place pictures and then implementing the plan develops creative thinking, reasoning, and spatial awareness. Displaying the pictures they have chosen fosters self-worth and individuality.   

3- Oobligook

Cornstarch and water make a wonderful medium for the small artistic hands. This art activity is all about the process.  Gather 3 cups cornstarch and 2 cups water.

  1. First let your child handle the dry cornstarch.  What does it feel like?  
  2. Add a little water and let those little fingers mix.  What is happening? What will happen if we add more water?
  3. After the lumpy stage, add the rest of the water.  
  4. Mix it all up and enjoy the silly, flowing substance.  Add food coloring if desired.
  5. What can you create?

art activities for preschoolers

Developmental Benefits: Your little scientist is beginning the scientific method!  Observing the qualities of her ingredients and making predictions, your preschooler is critically thinking.  She is also tapping into that right brain as she handles and creates with the oobligook.  The more we can cross the two brain hemispheres, the better! Language development is also occurring as she describes what she is feeling.

4- Beautiful Junk 

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”  This old English proverb holds true for preschool creativity! Give your child a pile of safe “junk” objects.  (Cereal boxes, beads, foil, cartons, buttons, cloth, toilet paper/paper towel rolls, ribbon, spools, yarn, shoelaces, cotton balls, rubber bands, paper. etc.)

Then issue the challenge.  “What can you make?”  Or if they need a little guidance, “What is the tallest thing you can make?” “What is the shiniest thing you can make?”  Be available with tape, or even better, colored duct tape, but let them do all the creating.

art activities for preschoolers

Developmental Benefits: This is a wonderful activity for problem solving.  For more problem solving experience, have your child work with a friend to make their creation.  This activity also encourages inventiveness.

“The kind of people society needs to make it move forward are thinking, inventive people who seek new ways and improvements, not people who can only follow directions,” says MaryAnn Kohl, an arts educator and author of numerous books about children’s art education. “Art is a way to encourage the process and the experience of thinking and making things better!” 

5- Story Inspired Art

Book illustrations can be a wonderful way to inspire your home art.  Here are a few examples:

  • Harold and the Purple Crayon, by Crockett Johnson.  Use sidewalk chalk to draw your own adventure!
  • Press Here, by Hervé Tullet.  So many dotty options!  Dot pens, fingerprints, stamping.  Try cutting grapes in half and stamping them in paint to tell your own dot story.
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle. Always a favorite! But have you ever examined the cover pages?  With scraps of colored paper, make your own caterpillar holes using a hole punch.  Then, use all the punch circles to decorate your little artist’s created butterfly.

art activities for preschoolers

Developmental Benefits: Language is developing any time we tell a story.  Mathematical skills are developed as your child sequences her story.  Your creativity is developed as you are inspired by the illustrations of others to come up with your own art adventure.  

Remember: Process over Product!

As you do art activities with your preschooler, remember it’s about the process more than the product.  The development happens as your child creates.  The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) offers some helpful suggestions for process-focused learning.

 

If you’d like to see more fun ways art can be used to develop your whole child, come visit us for a free tour at UDA Creative Arts Preschool, the premier preschool in Salt Lake.  For more information, call us at (801)-523-5930.

Written by: Elsje Denison