Turning Play Time into Learning Time for Your Preschooler

Enrichment Therapies

July 11, 2019

A whole new batch of kids will be entering preschool and kindergarten this fall! This can be a new adventure for some parents and raise questions such as, “Is my child ready?” “What do they need to know?” “What can I do to help?” Below are a few fun and easy ideas to help your child with literacy, writing, math, and social skills.


One of the best things you can do to help your child with early literacy skills is read (big surprise, I know!). Reading books with your child exposes them to important early literacy concepts such as the understanding that letters have sounds, letters makeup words, and books can be read by anyone and the same story is told. Here are a few tips for reading with your child: 

Point out the title of the book: Show your child where the big words are on the cover of the book. Read the title aloud and talk about what the book might be about based upon the title and the cover art. 

Point out individual words in the book: Choose salient words that your child might be interested in. For example, some words in children’s books are bolded, in a different font, or larger than the rest of the print. These are often sound words (e.g., ‘boom’ ‘squish’ etc.) and these are great words to talk about because they are spelled how they sound. You can talk about how “boom” starts with the ‘B’ sound and have a contest to see who can say “boom” the loudest! 

Number Awareness 

There is more to numbers than just counting! Preschoolers can work on identifying numbers, counting, and one-to-one correspondence (the knowledge that the numbers hold physical value). Here are some number activities you can do at home: 

Number scavenger hunt: Pick a number then write that number on pieces of paper and tape the pieces of paper throughout the house (or outside if it’s nice!) and have your child go on a scavenger hunt for that number. 

Count objects around the house: Need a no-prep activity? Make a list of things around your house your child can count (e.g., doors, windows, chairs, etc.) and walk around the house with them while they count. 

Dice game: You can do this with lots of different materials! Roll a dice, have your child count the dots, then do an activity using that number like build a tower with the same amount of blocks, draw shapes, do gross motor movements (e.g., jumping, clapping, etc), or anything they are interested in! 


Writing is an important skill for social and academic success. While your preschooler isn’t expected to be able to write the alphabet or write all of their letters correctly, you can practice early writing skills at home. Your child’s name is a great word to practice writing! You can start with just the first letter of their name and work towards spelling the whole thing. Writing their own name will be very motivating for them and practical for school. Here are a few ideas for early writing: 

Tracing with their finger: You can write your child’s name on a piece of paper and have them trace it with their index finger. If you want to go even further, you can work together to glue cotton balls over their name and trace again over the cotton balls. 

Making letters with Play-Doh: Write a letter on a piece of paper and mold the play-doh on top of the letter. You can make their whole name one letter at a time!

Writing in whipped cream: This one is super fun and adds a sweet element (as long as they don’t eat it all before writing!). Just put some whipped cream into a pan and use a finger or a plastic knife to write letters in the whipped cream.

While you’re doing all of these activities with your child, you can talk about the sounds each letter in their name makes!

Social Skills 

Getting along with other children is such a big part of preschool! Learning to share, cooperate, and play together is just as important as literacy, number, and writing skills. Here are a few tips for facilitating social skill growth: 

Play a game: Pick your child’s favorite game in which there can be a winner and play so that sometimes they win and sometimes you win. Talk about things they can say when they don’t win (e.g., “good game” “that was fun” “let’s play again”). Talk about being a good sport and things they can say when they win a game. 

Facilitate sharing: Engage in play with your child with any of their toys. Talk about words they can use when they want to play with something that someone else is playing with. Talk about what to do if another child wants to play with the toy they are using and practice those scenarios. 

Children develop all of these skills at different speeds and that is okay! However, if preschool isn’t going as smoothly as planned, a daycare or preschool teacher is raising concerns about your child’s play or communication skills, Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center can help. We offer FREE screenings for all of our services: speech, language, writing, math, and dyslexia. We have offices in North Liberty and the Des Moines metro. 

Our friendly and knowledgeable staff are here to help! Please call in with any questions and we will assist you in any way that we can.

Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center has locations in the Iowa City, IA area and Des Moines, IA area. We provide individual speech-language therapy and tutoring as well as offering small group academic programs.  At Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center our passion is to help kids achieve effective communication skills and gain academic success.  Contact us for more information on how we can help your child succeed.


740 Community Drive, Unit A

North Liberty, IA 52317



5530 West Pkwy, Suite 300

Johnston, IA 50131


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