On a typical day, kids sleep on average, 10 to 12 hours and spend the remaining hours seeing, feeling, touching, discovering, banging, talking, running, dropping, poking, singing, rummaging, breaking, and interacting.

Think of a child as a learning machine. You, as a parent, can feed materials into this machine!

For example, read to your child daily. Many teachers read a chapter a day or every other day to their class. You can do the same with Swiss Family Robinson or Charlotte's Web, or read a smaller board book in its entirety.

You can also sit your child at the kitchen table for 15-20 minutes to do a School Zone workbook page or two. Kids enjoy these colorful activities. They love the ABCs and counting and are actually excited to be able to write their name, learn their telephone number, or read to Daddy. We use the word ready; the child is ready for readiness activities that will get him or her ready for school.

Make this time special. Have a treat ready for a reward, or simply say, "Good job."

You can do the same page later for reinforcement. You will find that your child looks forward to school, and gets used to the idea of it. When school begins, your child will be eager and ready.

Mix media as you teach. Do page work one day, then switch to or incorporate flash cards and games. Be creative. After a work page or flash card session, get out the paint and brush, or scissors and glue. A coloring session never hurts; besides being fun, it develops creativity and eye-hand coordination.

Allow for physical time. Use the school term "field trip," and go outside and collect seeds, acorns, leaves, etc. Or try and find as many of "this or that" as possible.

And last, don't forget nap time and snack time. Give yourself a rest or bite too!