Making friends, forming ideas, following rules … it’s all coming together now, just in time for school! Imagination also reaches new levels, and athletic abilities start to shine. Here, you’ll find ways to make creativity and problem-solving part of each day for your five-year-old, paving the way for continued learning and a “can-do” approach to life.
He draws recognizable pictures, writes his name, dresses himself and completes puzzles
She can solve problems and explain things
His friendships become stronger
She can sort things into basic categories
He can imitate your pose and tone of voice
She can finish activities without waiting for directions
He differentiates between “pretend” and “real” when playing
She begins to make comparisons and her memory expands
He can explain games to other kids
What if … Prompt imaginative play with different scenarios once your child is familiar with a toy.
Point out heroes in your neighborhood, country or the world. Explain why heroes are special people. Your child is still too young to really know about current events, but remember how much kids absorb from hearing the news or adults' conversations.
Tell me a story. Asking your child to tell you about what he's pretending will encourage thinking and help develop language and communication skills. Every once in a while ask, "What did your superhero do today?"
Everyday fun. Create a challenging roadway for your child's vehicles using everyday objects. Let him race his cars through paper towel "tunnels," roll them to the top of pillow "mountains" and maneuver them over a broom's bristles.
Be an announcer. Watch a short car race on TV. Instead of relying on the speedway announcer, turn the sound off and take turns calling the action!
All about safety. Turn an outing into a lesson in vehicle safety. Take a walk on a city sidewalk and point out the road signs and signals. Explain what they mean, and why it's important for motorists to obey them.
Safe and sure. Make sure the area your child is riding in is not only safe, but also big enough to make turns. Always directly supervise your child and remind her of the do's and don'ts of safe riding (do watch where you're going; don't go near the street; don't go out of the driveway).
Practice makes perfect. Set up an obstacle course with traffic cones or kid-sized road signs you've made together. Tell your child about some of the basic traffic symbols, and point out real road signs as you're driving together.
Parking spot. Find a safe place for your child to "park" his vehicle in your garage or shed, with the responsibility to return it there when he's done driving.
A world of play. Help your child set up an inviting play environment, with enough room to spread out as she plays.
Make a play mat together. Use a long roll of paper or poster board, and paint or draw streets and yards. Ask your child to think of names for the streets, the village square, the town beach, etc. He may want to model it after his own neighborhood, a favorite vacation spot or another familiar place.
Tell me about it. Encourage your child to tell you a story about what she's acting out with her dolls and accessories. This will help her put imaginative thoughts into words and give her confidence in expressing ideas.
When you see your child busy pretending, you can be sure there's a whole lot of thinking going on! Pretend play is more than fun—it helps develop thinking and problem-solving skills and strengthens social and communication skills, as well.
There are few things more ominous than hearing “How much longer?” from the back seat when you are only 20 minutes into an hours-long road trip. Time for car games! From “Going on a Picnic” to “I Spy,” these games have stood the test of time for a reason.