Provide a variety of experiences and activities for your preschooler

Preschool children constantly learn new skills. To help develop and support these new skills, provide your child with a wide variety of experiences and physical activities.

Help your child develop large motor skills

Preschoolers are excited about their mobility and are naturally eager to develop more physical skills. Take advantage of this enthusiasm by taking your child outside to play as often as possible, ideally at least once a day. Running, climbing, jumping, and exploring help preschoolers improve their coordination and other large muscle skills. If your child attends a type of child care, make sure the environment has safe play equipment and plenty of space for running around.

Children who rarely get to exercise and practice using their large muscles are denied the joys that come from using their bodies in playful, physical ways. A child who is constantly told not to play with the things around him may slowly lose the curiosity that is so important to learning.

Help your child develop fine motor skills

Preschoolers gradually gain the precise coordination that allows them to effectively use their smaller muscles, such as those in the fingers. Children with well-developed fine motor skills will find it easier to hold a pen or pencil and write well. Provide a wide variety of activities that encourage the development of these skills, such as:

  • Drawing, coloring, and finger painting.
  • Cutting with safety scissors.
  • Playing with clay.
  • Playing musical instruments.
  • Using tongs or fingers to pick up objects.
  • Pouring.

Sensory skills

Preschoolers gradually gain an awareness of their senses, which are an important part of all types of learning and development. Introduce your child to new sights, smells, sounds, textures, and tastes as often as you can. For example, visit zoos and museums, go outdoors and pick up leaves, or let your child play in a sandbox. Although it may take time for your child to respond to these new sensations, repeated exposure helps children to fully experience their environment.

Limit TV

Limit TV time to 2 hours a day or less. Watching television—even age-appropriate, high-quality, or educational television—is no substitute for real experiences. The colorful characters on TV may attract children, but they learn very little that is important for this age. Young children also may develop a TV-watching habit that interferes with healthier forms of play, such as physical, artistic, or musical activities.

When your child watches TV, talk with him or her about what is happening. Interact with your child, such as by dancing along with characters or playing pretend.

Last Updated: March 26, 2009

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