Maybe you plan on homeschooling your four or five -year- old next year, and are already taking plenty of time to read, tell stories, and develop your child's budding intellect with hands-on play. If so --- great! And here are a few extra tips, or reminders to keep on doing what you're doing, and to encourage you all the more...
1) Go places. Children's vocabulary grows as you introduce new sights and words. Meet people. Get out and take an interesting afternoon excursion. Nature centers, airports and gardens are great places to consider when the budget's an issue. Use your local park.
2) Be physical. Let kids swing, skip and play in the sand box. Pick pumpkins in the fall, build snow men in the winter, and gather bouquets in spring. We're meant to move.
3) Snuggle as you read. Small children will never forget those stories you read with plenty of voice inflection and feeling.
4) Build hand-eye coordination with Lego's, Lincoln Logs and Play-Mobiles.
5) Let kids dress up. For us, it was Davy Crockett with the coon skin cap, a cowboy with vest and boots, or a trapper with the fringed jacket. Let imaginations soar as your little one plays with costumes.
6) Get out the sidewalk chalk and Play-doh. What's better than opening those new colors?
7) For art: crayons and plenty of blank, white paper.
8) Eat together, and let the kids help make simple snacks in the kitchen.
9) Play ball. Bright kick balls are great for coordination. And consider that exercise correlates with strong bones, agility, and mental acuity.
10) Let children take part in doing chores. Keep a chart on the fridge for daily work.
11) Teach Scripture at a young age, and model your faith in front of your kids, as best you can, with God's help. Pick a theme verse. Ours was Ephesians 4:32 -- "Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you."
12) Introduce your kids to music at a young age. Let them hear what a trumpet sounds like, or encourage them to distinguish the difference between, say, a flute and a violin. Children are never to young for music.