Toolkit: Pre-Academic Skills

General Principles

These are general principles to keep in mind as you work with your child to enhance pre-academic development:

  1. Provide engaging, meaningful, hands-on experiences to ensure a strong academic foundation.
    1. Young children learn by doing. Encourage freedom of movement and exploration in a baby-proofed environment.
    2. Being in different positions allows children to see where things are in relation to one another, which introduces children to spatial relationships.
  1. Make learning part of your daily routine.
    1. Talk to your child about what you are doing. This will help to improve your child’s vocabulary, understanding of language, and learn to sequence actions.
    2. Add foam animals, numbers, and crayons made for the bath to add novelty to the bathtime routine.
  1. Keep activities and experiences fun!
    1. Young children are naturally curious, so incorporate new toys and materials to keep things novel. Some parents choose to rotate toys into play, but many children often prefer exploring every day objects, such as cardboard boxes, safe kitchen utensils and pots and pants for drums.
  1. Use curriculum modifications to help your child more fully participate, while promoting learning, independence, and success.
    1. Children with special needs often require adaptations or specialized equipment to access curriculum more fully. Explore techniques with your child’s team (e.g. specialized pens to promote writing, chairs that will provide increased postural support that will increase attention, use visuals with words to promote language and literacy development.

Supporting your Child with Modifications in Curriculum

  • Modify the physical or social environment to promote participation and engagement.
    • Create a quiet area where your child can go when overwhelmed
    • Create opportunities for play dates to promote successful peer interaction
  • Adapt materials, so that your child can participate independently or with minimal support.
    • Adapt books with pictures to make reading more interactive
    • Add popsicle sticks or foam pieces to the corners of page to make turning the pages of a book easier
  • Simplify or break down the steps of the activity, so that your child can feel the joy of success.
  • Use materials or encourage activities that your child prefers. This increases motivation to learn more challenging or novel activities.
    • If your child loves trains, read books about trains, build a train with a cardboard box, draw a train.
  • Talk to your child’s therapist about special equipment that may be available to help increase your child’s independence or level of participation.
  • Provide opportunities for adult and peer support. Children are often very motivated by peers. The balance of types of support will help your child feel more independent and enhance social capacities.