ParentTips are simple things parents can do during everyday moments to improve their child's school readiness and success:

  1. Read to your child every day. Find books with simple stories, and help your child start to think about what he or she sees and hears. Talk with him about what heppens first, next and last in the story.
  2. Play "what's that sound" and let your child try to guess where a sound comes from.
  3. Make up characters and act out their roles. You and your child can pretend to "be" anyone!
  4. Let your child tell you a made-up story during bath time, dinnertime or any time.
  5. Play outside! Run, jump, play tag or hide-and-seek, or play ball.
  6. Make things together with scissors and glue. A shoebox makes a great pretend dollhouse or car. Old socks make fun puppets. A big carboard box can be a clubhouse.
  7. Let your child "help" with chores by using a broom, dusting a table or sorting laundry by colors. These can be fun ways for children to learn.
  8. Make (and play) musical instruments. Use paper towels, old pots, plastic pails, tin cans (with no sharp edges), cardboard, and anything else handy. Play along with the radio, or give a "concert."
  9. While you're on a walk or going to the store, help your child to look around and explore. Watch the big machines at a construction site and talk about what they are doing. Let your child feel the bark of different trees. Count the different kinds of cards and talk about what makes them different.
  10. Have regular times for meals and snacks, so that your child will grow up eating on a healthy schedule. Eat healthy foods yourself as an example for your child.
  11. Keep an eye on your child's vision. It can be hard to tell if a young child is having trouble seeing. Watch for signs such as stumbling, squinting, or holding books too close. If you think there might be a problem, see an eye doctor.
  12. Be clear with your child about how you expect him or her to behave: saying "please" and "thank you," holding an adult's hand when crossing the street, not talking to strangers, taking proper care of toys, sharing, etc.
  13. Give your child chances to play, both alone and with others. Make arrangements for safe playtime with other children.
  14. Using a doll, pretend that you and your child are taking care of a baby. Say, "Oh, the baby is crying. I think we need to change baby's diaper," and show your child what to do. Or, pretend that the two of you ar friends having coffee together. Set the table, sit down, and start a conversation. You can ask, "So, tell me something that made you laugh this week."
  15. Play games with a jump rope. Lay it out straight on the ground and have your child pretend to "walk the tightrope" in the circus. one your child can do this, have him or her hop along the rope. Then put the rope in a circle and have your child hop into and out of it, first with both feet and then on one foot. The two of you can keep making up new tricks.
  16. Pretend to be in a restaurant where you take turns writing down each other's orders. Also, point out the words on stop signs, billboards, cereal boxes, etc.
  17. Help your child to become aware of sounds in letters. Play games: "What starts with 'm'?" "What ends with 't'?"
  18. Ask your child to tell you about what he or she did today. Listen closely and be interested.

It’s Time For School was developed by Ready At Five in partnership with the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) with a Judith P. Hoyer Grant for Private Providers of Early Care and Education Services. Ready At Five gratefully acknowledges the following individuals and organizations for their review and suggestions: Anne Bailowitz, Baltimore City Health Department; Ed Beck, MSDE; Michael Cockey, MSDE; Rolf Grafwallner, MSDE; Debbie Harris, Calvert County Public Schools; Liz Haslup, Talbot County Public Schools; Brenda Kelly, Baltimore City Public Schools; Mary LaCasse, DHMH; Donna Mazyck, MSDE; Shari Oster-Sherr, Frederick County Public Schools; and Barbara Squires, Baltimore City, Success By 6 at Baltimore City Health Department. This publication is based on a 1989 MSDE publication, Your Child Goes to School. Special thanks to Bruce Jacobs, Louise Corwin, and Amanda McMahon for their writing and editorial expertise. This book may be copied and distributed, provided that the text is not altered and is distributed without cost or fee to the recipient.