Summer is fast approaching and that means parents are already worrying about imparting those fundamental skills children need to excel. Katie Allen, director at St. James Day School, encourages parents “to do fun, relaxed hands-on activities” that reinforce a single concept such as letters or numbers.

Shirley Terry, a teacher at St. Giles Preschool, suggests sitting down with “manipulatives that help to color match, sort, categorize, count and recognize patterns.”

Even in the good old summertime, both preschool educators agree that youngsters can master learning concepts through play. As you visit the beach, go hiking and take some time for family, here are tips to encourage learning in your little one:

1. Ask your young child to name everything as they go about their day. For example, they might see a blue cup, red popsicle and two purple pool towels.

2. Once or twice a week focus on bolstering concepts such as letters or numbers, shapes or colors and practice the entire day. For example, you can identify every circle spotted on a car trip to the store or play a number game and count all the trucks on the road.

3. Grab the old faithful crayons, markers and scissors to work on fine motor skills while practicing colors and shapes.

4. Encourage them to do age appropriate independent activities by themselves such as putting on their shoes.

5. Read, read, read. Allen says, “Reading with a child is the greatest gift a parent can give.” She recommends reading aloud to your child, encouraging your child to talk about what is on the page and visiting the library often.

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