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Do-It-Yourself Preschool



So you failed macroecon in college; you can still teach your kid the basics. Dump out the change bowl and explain to her what each coin is called. Distinguishing quarters from dimes and nickels from pennies introduces the concept of bigger and smaller. Then take the booty to a coin-counting machine and exchange it for paper cash. Give your little tycoon two of the dollars you collect and head to a local dollar store. Let her pick out two things and pay for them herself (you'll have to spot her the tax!).

Homework: Set up a "store" in your living room with pretend food, and give your tyke eight or so coins. Tell her each item costs one coin, and let her shop away.

Basic Geometry

When you're driving or walking around, encourage your kid to find and point out the passing shapes, from the "circle" car wheels to the "rectangle" house windows.

Homework: Let your kid watch Sesame Street's Guess That Shape and Color DVD. (Hey, don't you remember watching videos about photosynthesis and the solar system when you were in school? Plus, you need a break. Teaching toddlers numbers and shapes isn't exactly a raucous funfest.)

Sequencing 101

Collect a small memento from each of your day's activities (a rock from the park, a napkin from the pizza shop, the receipt from the grocery store, etc.) and let your child carry them in a bag. When you get home, dump out the contents and, together, remember your day and put the items in chronological order. For example, "First we went to the store for bananas, so we'll put the receipt first. What did we do next?"

Homework: Talk about the order of your daily routines. What do we do after the bath? "Put pajamas on and read books!" And then what? "Mommy drinks wine!"