Helping children learn to...
Use all their senses
 
The more children use all their senses-- not just seeing and hearing-- to learn about the world around them, the more they will learn, and the more they will know.

Luckily, there are many simple and enjoyable ways parents can help children become aware, not only of how things look and sound, but of how they feel (including how heavy and light they are), how they smell, and how they taste. None of these needs any special equipment.

 
 
Illustration by Andrea Elovson, from The Kindergarten Survival HandbookSEEING

Seeing differences between things, and understanding what "same" and "different" mean, is important to learning many things in school and in life.

For example, being able to see the difference between big things and small ones is very important for learning to read and write.

Seeing differences in shapes and colors is also important for learning math, geography, even science later on.

 
TEACHING BIG AND SMALL

Put a few objects on the table.

First use objects with big differences between them, like a bottle, cup, and some coins.

Ask your child to show you the biggest one, then the smallest.

If your child can't do this yet, don't scold or look disappointed.

Show your child which is biggest and which is smallest, again and again, until he or she gets it right.

Illustration by Andrea Elovson, from The Kindergarten Survival Handbook
 
Illustration by Andrea Elovson, from The Kindergarten Survival HandbookHEARING

Knowing if sounds are alike or different is important in learning how to read, as well as in speaking correctly.

So playing hearing games helps your child do well in school. Here are a few.

Wherever you might be, have your child close her eyes tightly, sit still, and just listen.

Then ask your child to tell you all the sounds, one by one, that she is hearing. Ask where they're coming from.

Be sure to show your child how impressed you are at how many sounds she recognizes.

 
TASTING AND SMELLING

The "Mystery Object"

When you're making dinner, or are just in the house together, ask your child to close his or her eyes (tightly).

Then put a piece of food, or a flower, or even a pencil or toy, under your child's nose and ask her to guess what "the mystery object" is, just from smelling it. (No touching!)

Illustration by Andrea Elovson, from The Kindergarten Survival Handbook
 
Illustration by Andrea Elovson, from The Kindergarten Survival Handbook TOUCHING

You can play this game anywhere. Again, have your child close his eyes, or use a blindfold. Place his hand on a familiar object, like a doorknob, a chair, or the family pet.

Then, ask your child to tell you what it is, and how it feels.

 
Some other time, when you're both unpacking the groceries after shopping,
have your child reach into the bag and, without looking into it,
tell you what things are before taking them out of the bag.

You can ask your child if he or she can turn on the old "inside eye"
and try to remember the color of the object, as well.

 
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Copyright © Parent Education Resourcesfrom The Kindergarten Survival Handbook
Part 2, "A Guide for Parents"