Activities for Parents to Lead in the Classroom
The Week of the Young Child™ is an annual celebration of children sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The purpose of the Week of the Young Child is to focus attention to the needs of young children and their families, and to celebrate the high quality early childhood programs that meet those needs.
Young children learn most effectively when parents and teachers partner to set goals and share a joint vision of early education. To commemorate Week of the Young Child, we are taking this opportunity to share a few classroom-based learning activities that could provide opportunities for you to be involved in your child's classroom. For many families, this kind of involvement is not possible or practical. But for those with time and inclination, a few ideas by age group follow.
See if any spark your interest. This list may also give you ideas of activities to do at home with your child. Be sure to discuss any ideas you have with your child's center director and teacher first to see if they would work in your child's setting.
Visit the classroom, sit on the floor and sing and/or engage in simple movement activities. Babies love old favorites that include some movement like Itsy Bitsy Spider, Wheels on the Bus, and If you are Happy and You Know It. It may be fun to bring music that your family enjoys and share it with the children. Babies also love rolling balls around the room or might enjoy pulling scarves out of a Kleenex box.
Visit the classroom to sing and/or engage in action-oriented movement activities like Head, Shoulders Knees and Toes, London Bridge, or Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush. Consider sharing dance music that your family enjoys. Or offer to sit in the dramatic play area and facilitate dress up play with scarves, gloves, vests, dresses, etc. Another idea is to bring or use soft balls at the center and play basketball by tossing the balls into a laundry basket or other large container.
Visit the classroom and prepare a favorite recipe with the children (young cooks enjoy making everything from hummus to soups). Read a book to the children and invite them to draw pictures about it or act it out. Bring in materials for a craft activity (turn odd socks into puppets; make simple origami fans by folding paper, or give children recycled objects such as plastic lids, wrapping paper, ribbons, buttons to see what they create). Other favorites are planting seeds or small plants in cups, making classroom recycling bins, or sharing artifacts from your culture.
Visit the classroom and prepare an indoor or outdoor garden. Or teach the children songs and words in a different language. Share interesting items such as a globe, a new camera, or musical instruments. Take photographs with the children and create a book. Prepare a favorite recipe or edible art activity. Create crafts using recycled materials. Teach children outdoor games such as jump rope, hop-scotch or four square.
Young children love having family and friends visit their school to participate or lead an activity. Anything new and different is exciting and incites children's curiosity.
Think about your passions and interests and consider sharing them with your child's class. Do you play an instrument, or like to sing or dance? It doesn't matter if you don't think you have a good voice or are just starting to play an instrument. To the children you will be a star. Talk to your child's director and teacher and see what might be of interest.
The early years are learning years and are most effective when we partner together.
- Harvard Family Research Project reports on the impact of parent involvement in early childhood education
- Bright Horizons Learning at Home Activities is a great resource by age and type of activity
- For those who need a refresh on favorite children's music / rhyme lyrics, head over to Mama Lisa's World
- For science lovers there is a lively post on our parent community about science experiments and activities for toddlers