Is your child ready for kindergarten? Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) is a free program that prepares children for preschool by building a holistic foundation of learning.
This voluntary program uses age-appropriate activities backed by developmental psychology to ensure optimal development. Through a playful and safe environment, VPK targets all facets of development, such as social, cognitive and fine-motor coordination. The program’s holistic approach to development covers all integral facets of education by providing pre-reading, pre-math, social, and language skills.
Developmental Activities Found in VPK
Each VPK activity has a different purpose, providing foundation for literacy, cognitive, social and physical developmental domains.
One of the most important aspects of VPK is its attention to developing children’s executive function, which is vital to ensure optimal brain function in future.
Executive function encompasses four foundational skills: attention, impulse control, planning and working memory. During VPK activities, these functions are actively involved as each developmental domain is stimulated:
- Literacy: Children will be exposed to storytelling and reading, learn the alphabet and write their own names.
- Cognitive development: Children will learn the basic foundations of classification and patterns, sequencing and basic seasons.
- Social: Children will spend lots of time interaction with other children in a safe and fun environment, helping them to develop their social skills.
- Physical: Children will learn to use their hands to complete basic tasks such as drawing/painting. They will also spend time taking part in constructive play to boost balance and coordination.
Using VPK Activities at Home: Stimulate Your Child’s Brain
There are many activities out there that you can try at home; all you need is a few household items! Be sure to supervise your child during any of the following listed activities for safety’s sake.
Reading and Relating
- 2+ Years
- Read a story to your child, while incorporating a variety of questions to get the brain ticking. For example, ask your child questions about the characters that could perhaps relate to real life: “This character has red hair. Who do you know has red hair?” or “This one is a dog. Do we know a dog? What does he look like?” This helps your child to establish connections, working on memory, thinking/analysis and attention skills.
- 2.5+ years
- This will help your child think about the world around them and will help draw their attention to the different colors, shapes and sizes. Start the game by telling your child “I Spy with my little eye, something that is small”. Keep adding little clues to help your child discover what you are thinking of and play until your child understands enough to take a turn. This is a great bonding activity and will also boost your child’s vocabulary!
- 2+ Years
- This requires a story that has already been read. Your task is to reread a story book that you have read before to your child, so that you can ask certain questions that will test memory and attention. Before turning the next page, ask your child what he/she thinks is going to happen next. You can make this fun by giving little clues to help him/her to remember.
Cognitive Development Activities
Grocery shopping assistant
- 3+ years
- This is a fun way to introduce your child to classification. Get a number of different dried beans to mix together and get your child to separate and group them according to size and color. You can do this kind of thing with almost anything, such as cereals, fruits and vegetables. You can also get your child to help you pack away your groceries into the right cupboard/drawers, which will help with memory as well.
Counting Step games
- 3+ years
- Count your steps aloud every time you climb the stairs and get your child to try the same. Vary it up by climbing to different levels (or even counting backwards once in a while!). You can even stick pictures of the numbers on each step to help add a visual aspect to the game.
- Tell a story that includes counting/numbers in it. You can even climb the stairs as each number comes up within the story, for example: “Fred bought three bags of food to share with his friend Bob. Bob was hungry and asked for some fruit. Fred gave him six grapes, and then he himself ate two apples.” Each time a number is said, you jump on the step with the correct number. If you don’t have stairs, you can use a ladder on the floor or get creative by placing numbers down in line to mimic a staircase.
Remove the Tape
- 3+ years
- This is an easy game to keep your child occupied and is good for working on planning and fine-motor skills. Stick long strips of paper tape onto any flat surface, such as a table or refrigerator door. Make the tape overlap each other to keep it challenging. Show your child how to remove the tape strips one at a time, and then let her/him try unaided.
Social Development Activities
- 2 + years
- Playing with puppets can be a great way to spark imagination and creativity while developing social and language skills. First, create puppets for you and your child to play with. You can create puppets out of socks, paper bags, mittens or toys/figurines. Get, creative; give them personalities and different voices to make it a fun experience.
- To show your child how it works, first create a short story and perform both puppet roles for your child. Next, you can make it interactive by getting the puppet to talk to your child. Once your child is familiar with the puppets, you can give one to your child and encourage your child to take part. Give your child one of the puppets and encourage him/her to join the story. You can prompt your child by getting your puppet to ask his puppet questions, such as:” What is your name?” or “What is your favorite food?”
- 3+ Years
- Encourage your child if you see him/her playing make-believe roles; whether it be cowboys, drivers, parents or animals; pretend play is an important part of developing confidence and imagination in children and is a great way for them to socialize. If you notice your child engaging in pretend play, see if you can join to help your child become familiar with playing and sharing with someone else.
Homemade obstacle course
- 2+ years
- This is a great way to encourage active play while developing coordination, balance and strength. All you need to do is use your imagination and find what resources your home has in order to make an obstacle course. Start by using a spacious area (living room, family room, garden) and place obstacles around the room for your child to ‘complete’.
- For example, in a living room where there is enough furniture, you can get your child to crawl under a table, hop over a couch, step onto cushions, run to a wall and back. The possibilities are endless!
The Floor is Lava
- 3 + years
- This is a fun game that encourages creative ways of moving. Set up a spacious area where there are safe objects for your child to climb on (this can be couches, cushions, carpets, child-friendly, chairs, etc.). Explain to your child that the floor is hot, and that for them to be safe, they have to be off the floor at all times. The objective is to chase each other around (be careful though!) If you touch the floor, you have to run to avoid ‘burning your feet’. Encourage your child to hop from cushion to cushion, climb onto a couch, run across the floor to a matt, or to find a new place of safety. You can change it up by adding or removing ‘safe zones’ to keep it challenging!
- 2+ years
- Practice playing with a ball with your child. Grabbing, rolling, throwing and catching are all good ways of encouraging hand-eye coordination and fine-motor skill development. Make it even more fun by adding some chase; whoever fetches the ball first wins, or whenever can roll it the fastest wins. You can encourage your pets to join too, if you have any!
- 3+ years
- This is a great way to bond with your child, as you will be involving them in some long–term routines. Choose a day where you are able to take some time showing your child how something is done, and supervise your child taking part.
- For example, you can teach and supervise your child to help you sweep the floor, water the garden, feed the dog, or help cook in the kitchen. A great way to have fun is baking together; for example, baking Parkland’s fun Bunnybait snacktivity. Make sure that you choose something that is suitable and safe enough for your child to take part – you don’t want any injuries to happen!
Laying the Foundation For A Brighter Future
While there are many ways to assist your child’s development at home, only VPK’s program can completely prepare your child for the school environment, as children will be introduced to the classroom routine and a chance to interact with other school children. Visit Parkland Children’s Academy for free VPK program to find out more today.