Get Ready for School Success

You are your child’s first and most valuable teacher. From birth, you can help her develop language, problem-solving, motor, social and emotional skills that prepare her to succeed in school.

Ages 0–1: Talking, reading, singing and playing from birth helps your baby’s brain and body grow. By 12 months, most infants say words, understand requests, try to stand or walk with support, pick up small items and find something after watching you hide it (say, a toy under a towel.) 1-year-olds try to help with getting dressed (pushing an arm through a sleeve), hug stuffed animals and hand you things. Provide opportunities for your baby to move freely to develop muscles; play on a bed or the floor and help her stand, bounce and walk. To help develop fine motor, problem-solving and social skills, take turns picking up and dropping items in a basket or rolling a ball back and forth. Praise efforts to build self-esteem. 

Did you know?: Studies show a connection between doing well in school and early, regular prenatal care. 

Ages 1–3: By age 2, most toddlers use words like “me,” “I,” and “you” in sentences of two or three words. Reading a book with your child every day for at least 30 minutes (you can break it up over the day) and talking about it (“Where is the cow in the picture?”) is important for building language skills. Most children run by the age of 2; by 3 most jump with two feet and can stand on one foot. Teach and practice kicking, throwing, and catching balls to build coordination. At age 2, children can grip large crayons and begin to copy circles or lines. Building hand-eye coordination is the start of developing fine motor skills for writing: To help build both, offer blocks to stack or large beads to thread.  

Ages 3–5: During preschool, vocabulary and language skills deepen daily. By 4, most children use complete sentences of more than a few words and follow directions to place objects “under,” “in between” or “over.” 4-year-olds can catch a ball with both hands, draw a line and use scissors to accurately cut it. Help hand-eye coordination by tapping a balloon back and forth—how long can you keep it in the air? Strengthen prewriting by working on drawing shapes and letters. Between ages 4 and 5, language and motor skills blossom: Most children use the past tense, identify five colors and count to 10. Prepare your preschooler for kindergarten by practicing writing numbers, her name and other words, and taking turns telling a story with a beginning, middle and end. Being active is linked to self-esteem and school success: Boost balance, coordination and confidence by having hopping, skipping and jumping competitions.  

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