Her Toys and Hobbies
Does your little daughter have her own library? If she does not, encourage her to set one up. Her love of books is paramount. Reading is the most important of all school skills, and the more you read to her, and she to you — mainly, by retelling to you and embellishing what she remembers you having read to her previously — the more her reading readiness increases. Soon she will recognize words that recur and trace them. Her love for letters will extend beyond her tracing them on paper or trying to write her name in capitals. When you drive with her on the highway, she will now point to billboards and greet the large letters on them like long-lost friends.
Besides your daughter's books, tapes, and DVDs, her toy collection will include a variety of items that reflect her special likes and hobbies. She will probably have many dolls and doll furniture, sets of miniature dishes, a little oven, and dress-up items like princess outfits and little high heels and all kinds of baubles and beads. Or she will have a cowgirl ensemble, a pirate getup, or an astronaut suit. She will use her dolls — male and female — to act out her stories. But she may also have a collection of dinosaurs or fake creepy crawlers and move them around the house to pretend-caves or to a forest made up of stacks of building blocks or sofa cushions.
Many preschool children have a favorite book that they want you to read to them every night, just as they have a favorite blanket or stuffed toy. Try to introduce your daughter to a wider selection of age-appropriate stories by reading something new at the beginning of your nightly ritual and ending up with her most beloved book.
When it is time for her to get a present, allow your daughter to select what she wants at the toy store at the mall, rather than force her to get something you like. In short, approve of the developing interests of your daughter while guiding her toward what you feel is suitable, without stifling her unique personality. She may fall in love with the latest version of the same toys you had at her age, or she may choose the exact opposite. She may be thrilled to hold the precious baby doll you played with that Grandma saved or the building blocks Grandpa set aside, or she may hand them back to you at once.
Of course, how and where your little girl spends her day will influence some of her toy choices and hobbies. Often what she sees at preschool — or on TV — is something she will clamor for when you are close. Many children advance from a preschool program to regular kindergarten in a public, private, or faith-based setting. You will want to encourage a similar program at home. Quite a few of these programs introduce a child to the use of a computer.
Child experts agree that it is more important for a child to learn to play with toys that require more physical involvement beyond just sitting in front of a screen, whether it is a computer or a TV screen. Basic computer skills can be taught in thirty minutes, but too many childhood hours spent glued to a screen can negatively affect kids.
Read carefully the curricula — the listing of instructional goals — of the kindergarten program your daughter attends. Ask for an explanation of the terms you do not understand. These days, many kindergarten teachers speak “educationese” in an attempt to align their programs with first grade. Many of their programs are impressive and barely resemble the kindergarten you remember attending.
Now much more academic pressure has been placed on the early years in a child's education, so that she will be completely ready once she enters first grade. Kindergarten offerings reflect that shift. But once you understand their goals, you can shore up at home what your little girl is introduced to away from home and what she enjoys most.
Fortunately, your daughter is now old enough to tell you what activities she thinks are fun. When you ask her what she would like to do on a free afternoon, most often she will opt for playing with her friends.