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GreatStart activities – learning with your child

When calling your family together to share a meal talk about when they need to come. Will dinner be ready in five minutes or in half an hour? Talk about what they need to do before they come to eat together. Let them know where the meal will be served.

Dinner will be ready in five minutes. You need to wash your hands and pack away your toys.

Your family has finished their meal together and now it’s time to clean up. Who is going to clear it all away? You could ask your child to help.

Talk with your child about where to start. Do you need to pack away the plates and other things from the table first? Is it possible to just wipe the table straightaway?

We need to put away the containers and dishes before we can wipe the table clean.

You can put the serviettes into the rubbish bin while I carry the heavy plates to the kitchen sink.

Sitting together as a family to share food can be a great opportunity to talk about what happened during the day or what might happen tomorrow.

If the weather is nice you could pack a picnic and sit outside or go to the park and share a meal together. If it is cold and wet you could still have a picnic, but have it inside by the fire or heater where it is nice and warm.

The weather is fine, the days are long and the family is on holidays. If you have a barbecue everyone can help to prepare the meal. Maybe this time you could make kebabs.

Talk to your child about the different types of kebabs you can make. Will you use meat or vegetables or a mixture of both? Your child could help you to cut up the different ingredients and thread them on.

Many cultures use an Advent calendar in the days leading up to Christmas. You could buy one but making one can be more fun. There are many ideas for simple calendars on the internet. One idea is to have 24 envelopes with each one containing an idea of something to do on that day. The ideas could include: make a wish list of presents, write some cards, read a special story, make a decoration, go for a walk to look at Christmas lights, do some cooking, sing some Christmas songs, and so on.

Nowruz, the Persian new year, means ‘new day’. It is celebrated around the world usually from March 21st for 13 days.

When children use tools to pick things up they are building muscle strength and developing coordination. One way to do this is to give your child plastic tweezers to pick up items and transfer them from bowl to bowl. You could use coloured pom-poms, beans, pasta, shapes, gumnuts or cotton balls. Helping to serve up food with kitchen tongs is another way to develop hand control.

Talking about what you will eat for dinner and setting the table together helps children experiment with ways they can measure and compare their world. As you describe the food and how it will be served encourage your child to find differently shaped or sized cups and plates. As they do this they are learning about measurement and the ways they can compare or describe objects.

Next time there is a pile of leaves to sweep up or it is time to sweep the kitchen floor get your child to help you. What part of the sweeping process will you ask your child to help with? Your child could sweep the leaves into a big pile with the broom while you use a dustpan and brush to put the leaves into the bin.

It has been very windy outside and there are lots of leaves on the ground. I am going to sweep them into one big pile. You can use the bucket to collect the leaves and tip them into the bin.

Next time you are travelling in the car with your child and the radio is playing, talk about the music you can hear. Is it modern pop music with singing or is it orchestral with no singing? Are there lots of people singing and playing instruments?

This style of music is called jazz. There are different styles of jazz music. Some jazz music is older and doesn’t have any singing.

This song is a duet. It’s called that because it is sung by two people.