What's the 411 (for Preschoolers)?

Eliza Clark
June 9, 2008

Your little one knows his own name. He loves his name. He may even know what letter it starts with. MY letter! And does he also know his middle name, and last name too? Yes? Good job, buddy!

But what about all the other info? Those basic names and numbers we all have in our heads, and that give us a place in this world to call home, people to call family. Telephone numbers; street name and number; name of town; parents' and caregivers' full names -- do your kids know this stuff? It's not like they're not capable of learning it. If a two-year-old can memorize the entire length of Danny and the Dinosaur, The Runaway Bunny and significant portion of The Real Mother Goose, then surely she can file away an address and phone number. Which might come in handy....

Which brings us to why many of us don't manage to teach these fundamentals. Even thinking about why or when your child might need that kind of info can make any parent downright crazy, and can lead even the savviest of us to stick our heads deep down into the sand(box). So let's not think about that just this second, but rather this: learning these things makes our kids feel smarter and stronger. Why? Because they know that much more about who they are. And we know how important that is to our preschoolers.

That's why we are big fans of an idea for teaching our kids their own "411" found in our Savvy Activities Encylopedia, written by one of our many clever parent contributors. And we quote:

"Take a picture of your house and paste it on a piece of construction paper (older children can help with this). Cut out a picture of your state and paste it on the paper as well. Then write out your full address, city, state, and telephone number. If you have space, include a few emergency phone numbers. This will help your child learn important information that they should know. Display the project on your refrigerator so that there are plenty of opportunities to see it."

Really, this is just the beginning of an idea. You can take it from there -- expand and embroider as will best suit your child. A poster up on the wall is perfect for a visual learner. If you've got a musical one, make up a song. For a poet, a rhyme or a rap. Let a doer practice dialing. Or if you've got a voracious reader, turn the project into a little homemade book (we're talking folded paper and a stapler) about your family and where you live.

But do find a way to impart these basics as early in the preschool years as you can. Because we want all our kids as smart and strong and safe as they can be.

Note: For more on keeping kids safe, see the invaluable and exhaustive site Power of Parents Online.

From the Parents

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