My son is almost three and I’m nervous about Manhattan kindergarten admission tests. Is there anything I can do to start to prepare?
The overflowing toy bin in your apartment may not be much fun for your child because he can probably only play with what is on the top. How can you maximize your toy selection for fun and learning?
I always encourage parents to have only a few classic-type toys (e.g., toy food and kitchen equipment, blocks, vehicles, animals, little people, puzzles, string beads, etc.) available for everyday independent play, which should be rotated on a weekly basis to maintain interest.
There should also be additional toys and games that are saved exclusively for playtime with you. While pretend play is a priority for you to engage in with your toddler, some early structured play could be helpful for building attention, language and thinking skills.
The recommended tools below should be used with supervision because of potential choking hazards, but more importantly to help your child be successful and have fun.
- To encourage visuospatial skills, start with a two large cube animal puzzle. Once this is easy for your child, you can try a vehicle puzzle with four cubes. Or jump to a six piece vehicle cube puzzle, or six piece farm animal puzzle.
- Things That Go Together Puzzle – While your puzzle-savvy toddler may put these puzzle pieces together with ease, be sure to always ask him why the items go together. No need to expect a complete answer at first, you may initially need to help provide the rationale.
- Category Sorting – This game is helpful for vocabulary, thinking and organizing. Talk about why the items belong in the same category.
- Matching and Patterning – A tool like this is helpful, but you can also make your own patterns. Use pieces of different cereal, stickers or color your own patterns together.
- What’s Different – Rip the two pictures you will be comparing out of this little book. Search for the differences together. You can have your child color, circle, point and / or label the differences.
- Vocabulary – Go beyond labeling items and provide descriptions. Encourage your child to give you more details. For example, when buying milk in the grocery store, point out that the milk is in the dairy section. Here you can also find cheese, butter, eggs, juice…this helps with category naming. You can ask questions like “Where does milk come from?” or “What can we make with milk?” to get your child thinking.
Everyday errands and chores can be transformed into learning. Trips to Manhattan museums (The American Museum of Natural History and The Metropolitan Museum of Art are the best for vocabulary) and reading the right children’s books can make the time you spend together invaluable. Your toddler will love you more for spending quality time together and he will perhaps become a precocious, cultured child in the process…reasons why you are ready to give the rigorous private school admissions process a try and why you live in Manhattan in the first place.
If your child has difficulty in any of these areas, or you would like to supplement your kindergarten prep with weekly sessions, please contact me:
Sessions are provided in the comfort of your Upper East Side home. Please explore my speech language blog for more parent friendly ideas.