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Look Around — School Readiness Is Everywhere!

By Remy Agee

Ah, September…

…and thoughts of a new school year, long after our children have families. Scientific evidence shows workbooks and flashcards aren’t the key to school readiness. Rather, there’s a clear connection between early learning experiences — the foundation for intellectual, social, emotional and physical development — and school success. Your involvement can promote grandkids’ strong self-image and excitement about learning.

School readiness learning is embedded in these everyday activities:

Mathematical Thinking

   Numbers and spatial relations

  • How many books fit in the bag?
  • Sorting/grouping: Put together red cars, blue cars, etc.
  • Count/group by size, shape, color differently shaped leaves or stuffed animals
  • Play “Which one doesn’t belong?” with like items, one different

   Quantity and sizes

  • How many long-sleeve shirts do you have? Short sleeve?
  • Shorts, long pants: Which do you have more of?

   Words to describe mathematical ideas

  • How many shovels of dirt do we need to fill the hole for the plant?
  • How many different foods go into this cookie recipe?


Scientific Thinking

   Cause and effect; exploration; observation

  • What happens when we add water to dirt? How does dirt feel before/after?
  • How does ice cream look/feel now? When it melts?
  • What does cookie dough look/feel like before baking? After?
  • What do you think will happen after we plant the seeds?
  • What’s going on outside (bugs, wind blowing, birds singing)?


Language and Literacy

   Listening, speaking, vocabulary; hearing/discriminating sounds; following directions

  • Children learn vocabulary from new activities and adults reading to them
  • Listen to/imitate sounds
  • Ask a child to give a simple message to another child or adult
  • Play “Simon Says” (adjusted for age)
  • Use hands (yours, theirs) to act out songs
  • Move to fast/slow music, using props (scarves, pots/spoons)
  • Visit the zoo, pointing out animal names and mimicking their sounds
  • Talk about what you’re doing while cooking, raking, cleaning up


  • Reading directions (cooking, planting) shows words have meanings
  • Create your own story ending or act out the story


Personal and Social Development

   Turn-taking; cooperation; expressing emotions

  • Take turns putting books/toys away
  • Play simple games, while children wait their turn
  • Talk about how good cookies taste, what a great team you are
  • Ask how your grandchild feels having helped make the cookies

   Problem solving

  • How can we dig the hole, water the seeds?
  • Don’t answer all questions; find info together from books or internet
  • Guide toddlers/preschoolers to do something using words and questions, not telling them how

Children learn through experiences, discovering the world and themselves. Let children direct how much is done and at their own pace by asking questions, exploring what interests them. What matters is your time together doing fun, positive activities. 

Remy Agee is the former Anne Arundel County (MD) Child Care Coordinator and retired as Director of Communications at a large family and children government agency. She has conducted county, state and national workshops on school readiness and early childhood partnerships. She now focuses on developing and writing articles for parents, grandparents and early childhood professionals.

Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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