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Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Books We Read This Week

Summer is not the easiest time to make children stay home and do math or read books. There is always so much to do outside which is good too, of course. They need to stay active(and more important, tire themselves up so their mommies could get on the computer when they are knocked out after running in the wild all day). It is proven that people who are fit and healthy have "fit" brains. It makes perfect sense to me: when you exercise your body gets rid of toxins and fills the blood with oxygen which stimulates the development and well-being of all the cells, brain cells including. So if you want to improve your children's grades just give them a bike and let them loose. Just kidding. About the "loose" part.
Physical activity is awesome, but we don't want our children to forget all they learned in school during the long summer vacation. What do we do? Read! It's the answer to most of our troubles. This is the perfect time for children who haven't become avid readers to become ones. There is no homework, deadlines and reading lists. Sounds good so far, right? They pick and read books they are interested in. Does your child like knights and dragons or adventures and explorers? Is he/she captivated by princesses and fairies or gnomes and goblins? Crazy about nature or music? They got it all! How cool is that? Make a big hoopla out of going to a book store and treat your child to a book he/she chooses. If your budget is tight, go to a thrift/used book store. They might have a good selection of classics. You can also visit your local library and ask around about the topic you selected. After reading the chosen book you can create a scrapbook highlighting your child's favorite character together, draw pictures to recapture the outline of the story. Together you can create a homemade puppet theater and make a play based on the story you read. Possibilities are unlimited. Use your imagination and try to make a connection to our everyday life.

You got the idea.

Pumpkin and I are trying to combine outdoor activities with the indoor ones. It is not as easy as it seems. Sometimes we get carried away having a good time in the park and after that we are too tired to lift a limb. Other times we stay home and do a lot of "homework". I call it "homework" because it sounds important to Pumpkin, something she is in charge of even though she doesn't go to preschool or kindergarten.

These are the books we read this week. Some of them I read to Pumpkin, some of them she read to me, and some of them we read together taking turns.

1. Lyle Finds His Mother by Bernard Waber.

I was reading this book to Pumpkin. I would say this book is for older preschoolers. Here I have a couple of pictures from the book. Pumpkin likes the books about Lyle. He is so kind and gentle, considerate and warm-hearted. He is a friend to everybody he meets. Lyle is a crocodile who acts more human than most of the humans. He becomes your child's best friend from the very first pages.

I like the rich vocabulary the author of this book is using. We read numerous books by him. I am a total fan. The illustrations are also made by Bernard Waber. They remind me of children's pictures - simple and slightly imperfect in a cute way which is very appealing to kids.I highly recommend it.

2. We Belong Together. A Book About Adoption and Families by Todd Parr. This book is appropriate for toddlers. I let Pumpkin read this one to me. Todd Parr has a talent of describing complicated things in a very simple almost primitive way which is perfect for little tots. I wouldn't describe what adoption is any better to my daughter. Each sentence starts with a catchy "We belong together because..." which follows by a sweet explanation on the next page. We both enjoyed the bright whimsical illustrations.

3.How to Hide an Octopus and Other Sea Creatures by Ruth Heller.

I read this book to Pumpkin but it is easy enough for beginning readers. I liked this book for several reasons:

1) rhymes promote phonic awareness;

2)we covered some science aspects learning about camouflage and what it serves for in nature from the examples of sea creatures;

3)this book is like a mini game, it's engaging.

You read a passage about a sea creature then you turn a page and...

try to find the same creature only camouflaged against it's environment. Artwork is great!

4. Curious George by H.A.Ray.

We've read this one before but this time we took turns reading it: one page per turn. This one is full of kiddie humor. The mischievous monkey Curious George reminds us of any curious child who is just exploring the world around. I think kids see themselves in him which cheers them up a lot since they are not the only ones who get in trouble out of curiosity.

5.Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst.

This book is about how little kids happen to have bad days just like adults and how they deal with it. But not everything is so gloom. Quite the opposite, the author explains children that days like this sometimes happen and it's all right because tomorrow will be a new day and everything will be back to normal. Even though this book describes a day from a life of a school-boy it will be suitable for preschoolers.

6.Frog and Toad All Year by Arnold Lobel. This one is a reader level 2 so Pumpkin was on her own. This book is from series of stories about Frog and Toad. My daughter absolutely loves them. The book includes a number of short stories about adventures of the two friends. The language is precise, the plot is funny. Illustrations on every page and large font make it easy for young readers to overcome the fear of endless pages.

Friday, June 26, 2009

It is almost impossible not to mention the death of Michael Jackson, the King of Pop. Every news station is blasting the same awfully shocking headline.

I am not going to repeat that has been said millions times today. Yes, he was a legend. Yes, he was an international mega-star. Yes, he had his share of troubles. And yes, he was a parent! That is what concerns me.

I don't know if he is a biological father to his children, what the deal is with the artificial insemination and the surrogate mom from Europe. The bottom line is he is the only parent those children had. He was their EVERYTHING.

Different articles I read today say that he was a good parent and had a great relationship with his children he hadn't had with his father. I see that. Books, museums, travelling around the world... It is all wonderful. But I don't really agree that the children are "normal" children. How can you be normal if you don't go to school, don't have your childhood friends, do not socialize with your peers at all and walk around in public all masked up? I am not saying it is right or wrong. Who am I to judge? I am not a super-star dealing with paparazzi and media 24/7. I honestly do not know if that was or wasn't the best for Michael Jackson's children.

What bothers me now is that the man who meant the world for those kids is gone. I am sure we will be witnessing custody battles and court hearings very soon. Whoever gets the custody will have to try to create a new family environment or replace Michael. The latter is impossible, so can you imagine what the children are going to face and go through? Already going through! Devastating! I wouldn't wish anybody to trade their places with those poor children.

I do wish them the best. Children should never be affected by mistakes and misfortunes caused by adults but they are always the first ones who get stuck right in the circumstances. I do wish them to become well-adjusted members of our society even though I know it will take a while. I do wish them to get what they were missing on because their father's fame. And I do wish them to remember their father, Michael Jackson, the way they knew him not the way the media is portraying him.

We are all human. I think there is more to the story of Michael Jackson than we hear about. Let's remember people for their achievements and accomplishment not for their shortcomings and mistakes.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Smart Pumpkin's Lab 2

Last time we did some exercises together to develop logic in young children. Hopefully you all found them useful.

In the beginning it might be a little difficult for your child since it is something new and he/she might be a little cautious about this new "game" you are playing together. Do not get discouraged! Give a hint or two, ask questions that will lead to answers, make it look as if the child figured it out on his/her own. This way he/she will not be resistant next time when you do it again. Who wants to do something he/she is not good at(unless they have to)? Make it exciting, cheer for every little accomplishment and in a blink of an eye your little one will get a hang of it.

Today I have some more exercises that you can do with your child.

1. Draw a line from each picture with farm animals on the left with the appropriate picture on the right. Talk to your child about farm animals in our life and what purpose they serve.

2. Look at the picture. Choose the right insert for each shape. After your child finished the task, talk about different shapes and colors.

Good luck raising a future MENSA member! ;)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Smart Pumpkin's Lab

Developing children's brains early is crucial for future success in life. And I do mean life because just being good at academics does not necessarily mean that he/she will be a quick thinker and an outstanding problem-solver. Evaluate information, make logical assumptions and right decisions fast based on the provided information - that is what it takes to make it through the cut-throat competition which our world is.

I like to take an overview of what we are dealing with here. We are preparing our children for being not only good students but also well-rounded individuals.

There are numerous areas of special importance when it comes to developing a child. Wiring their brains early makes a huge difference!

Today I would like to touch logic. You already know the advantages of being able to reason and disadvantages of not being able to. So I'll go straight to the point.

I've been trying to do logic exercises with my daughter at least once a week. Here I am sharing with you some we did today.Try doing them with your children and if you want you can send the solutions to the problems back to me. Check it out!

  1. Make this shape out of toothpicks. You will need 10 toothpicks. By moving 2 toothpicks try to create 4 triangles. We found two solutions.

  2. Find an odd one out.




Friday, June 19, 2009

Father's Day Craft

Father's Day is this coming Sunday. So Pumpkin and I decided to make a surprise for Daddy. the concept of a surprise was hard for Pumpkin to get. She understood the part about doing/giving something nice to somebody but she couldn't grasp that you do not tell about it in advance. So the first part of our surprise went like a lead balloon. She ran home and told her dad that "she went with Mommy to a store to buy a card for Daddy because Father's Day will be here soon...". Yep, just like that, without taking a breath.
That's all right, Pumpkin. Buying a card from a store is not a biggie. He guessed about it anyway.
I wanted to make with her something... Crafts for kids are so adorable, you want to keep them all for sentimental reasons. But it's so hard to keep them safe! All those bits and pieces usually fall out here and there, they are bulky and take a lot of our precious space. What do we do? Then flying paper planes around the house with my daughter(it just stopped raining today on the East Coast) gave me an excellent idea. Why don't we do ORIGAMI?
Origami is a Japanese art of folding paper into objects. Paper airplanes are origami.
I looked up a website that describes step by step how to do those objects. I love origami! They build children's imagination and develop spatial skills. Also, they teach them how to follow instructions which is a good skill to have under your belt. Grade school students will probably be able to complete the tasks on their own. Preschoolers will need moms' help.

Here is the link to that website:

There is an extensive list of things kids can do. We chose the ones that are stored flat for the reasons I mentioned. I hope you enjoy it. All you need is paper, scissors and maybe ruler. No mess at all(that is my favorite part)!
Here are the things Pumpkin made for her Daddy. Luckily, Daddy doesn't read this blog. ;)
We( I should say that) made this business card holder that can accommodate credit cards as well. If you use a good quality paper it is actually pretty cool.

Then we made a picture frame. You can also experiment with all kinds of paper and stickers and glitter... You got the idea.

This is how the frame looks like with Pumpkin's portrait of her Daddy and the things he likes.

And last but not least, this envelope that we decided to use as a package for the gifts. Like I already said, try different textures of paper, stickers, ribbons, etc.

Let me know how it went!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

SuperMom Attempt

Like all supermom-wanna-bes, I try to remind myself that after I had a child my life didn't stop. My daughter is, of course, #1 on my "To Do" list. But I am still a young woman who wants to enjoy life at its fullest. I still want to look good and do the things other childless people do. I am not an idiot! I know that with the miracle of childbirth my life got 500 times more complicated. I can't just take off - I need to arrange a baby-sitter. I can't just sit around and watch thrillers in the middle of the day - it's inappropriate for my child. I can't sleep on weekends as long as I feel like - I need to get up and make a breakfast for my child. And those are just a few lame examples of life at Mommyhood land. That is why I thought it would be nice to have a "Mommy 's corner" where we talk about moms as women not nose-wipers and diaper-changers.

Here I want to address fitness and healthy diet, beauty tips and style trends.

We are as good mothers to our children as good we feel about ourselves.

I've got a topic for you today!

Jiggle-Busting Move of the Day: Push-Up

Old and tried out push-ups... They do work! One of my faves shortcuts to upper-body work-out. They work your shoulders, biceps, triceps, chest, and abs. All in one move. Try avoiding those girly ones when you stand on your knees. You'll achieve your dream body look faster.

Standard Push-Up
Get in a push-up position by putting your hands on the floor right under your shoulders. Move your left hand 3-4 inches to the left from your left shoulder and your right hand 3-4 inches to the right from the right shoulder, about 45 degree angle to your body. Do 3 sets of 10 reps.
Modified #1: While you are pressing down lift your right leg, do the same with the left leg.
Modified #2:When you are pressing down, stop half way to the floor for 2 counts. Push back up.
Modified # 3:Do Modified #2 push-up only when pushing back up stop half way for 2 counts as well.

Triceps Push-Up
Get in the standard push-up position and move your hands as close as you can parallel to your body. Do 3 sets of 6-8 reps.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

When Is It Too Early To Introduce Your Child To Math Concepts?


As soon as you start talking to your child, which is newborn, start using the basic math terminology.
I am a front believer that you need to treat your baby like an adult. Remember that they are tabula rasa at this gentle time and absorb everything like sponges, literally. So all those "goo-goos" and "moo-moos" will not enrich your baby's vocabulary or assist in adjustment to the new and unfamiliar environment. Use the real words. Don't introduce your baby to a useless baby-talk. I know it's kind of cute but here we are not trying to be. When it comes to parenting we are all business. Or almost always...;)
So, Moms and Dads, why don't we use simple numerals along with simple names?
When you play with your baby(special note for new moms: I mean, after you got over the shock of having a baby and figured out how to take care of the basic baby's needs ) instead of saying "This is a bunny. This is a teddy-bear" say that and add to it "This is one bunny. And this is one teddy-bear". A little later you can add to all of the above "They are friends. There are two of them". And that was the first math concept introduction: "one/two(more than one)". You got the idea.
After you child grasped this math concept you can introduce other more complicated ones.

I watched this video on YouTube today. It is very basic but that's what you need for babies and toddlers: simple, clear and preferably in the form of a game not to bore them too much.

I like the early concepts of sorting and matching by color. Those are the groundwork for the following success in mathematics. Children love bright colors! Use it to your advantage( and their too, they just don't know it yet). Stock up on multiple toys in different colors and go through the sorting and matching games with your little one. Any kinds of blocks are great. There is not enough good things I can tell you about blocks. Ultimate math-skill builders!
In the video DVDs are introduced as well. I didn't let my child watch them till she turned 2 just like pediatricians recommend and after that they had no educational value to her. By the time she turned two she already knew her ABC's, 123s, shapes and colors.They are well-made though and my daughter did get a kick out of crawling around babies. She also enjoyed the parts with puppets. So it's completely your call to use DVDs or not.

Make your children love math early! They will thank you later.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Mommy's "Spa"

It's 1:14 a.m. and guess what? I am wide awake!

I'll be honest with you. I am new to blogging so it takes a while to learn the lingo. But I do enjoy reading what other people think and blog about. Maybe I did go a little crazy with the pumpkins on the background...Anyway, we are here not blend in but to stand out! LOL

My Pumpkin today was beading. I got those multicolored plastic ones about 1/4 of an inch in diameter for her. She just loves them! Now every Barbie and Teddy is accessorized. It is also a good activity to develop fine -motor skills.

Today, while I was busy reading your blogs, my daughter ran up to me,

"Mommy, Mommy"she yelled. "I made a necklace for you!"

When I pulled myself out of the screen I saw that little happy face. She was so proud! She was bursting from pride.

Sometimes there are very little things and moments that matter, that are important to us, that later on in life we cherish and say that they have sentimental value. Don't miss them. Slow down, pause for a moment and take it all in.

This was one of those moments for me.

"Thank you, Pumpkin,I like it so much! I am going to wear it right now."

Pumpkin put on the pumpkin -made necklace over my head, checked me out and said:"Mommy, for my birthday you can give me a jewelry box just like yours(hint-hint), so I can put there all the things I like." Fair trade. And before she left she made a statement:"Mom, those beads don't match your red jacket"

Fashion police. Do I need a stylist? Seriously!

When I shovel everybody in beds it is MY time. Like tonight. I brewed my green tea, made one of my concussion face masks, took a nice long shower...till I turned into a prune, and did the laundry. I know, I know. That wasn't part of my "spa" plan but I am trying to be a responsible citizen. As much as I can I do my laundry in off-peak ours. It's better for the planet and your wallet. If you happen to be awake at night do the laundry, save the world!
I am particularly possessive of my face mask concussions. It is not easy... Here! Be beautiful.
Banana Face Mask
You will need:
1/2 ripe banana, mashed
1 tablespoonful of orange juice
1 tablespoonful of honey
Mix all the ingredients together. Apply to your face and neck. Keep for 15 minutes, rinse with lukewarm water.
You can substitute all the ingredients for organic equivalents. This way you'll get Organic Banana Face Mask. It is great for your skin. Banana and honey are calming and moisturizing, orange juice acids are exfoliating. It's easy and cheap. Enjoy!
Mommy needs as much glow as she can squeeze out.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Rainy Day Activities

It has been raining... I don't particularly enjoy rain. I get all doom and gloom and everybody is hiding from me.
"Rain, rain go away..."
It's not that I am extremely outdoorsy, it's just that i like having that option. After being cooped up inside 4 walls for a while I am ready to climb them. I NEED TO GET OUT!
My way of dealing with rain is to go to bed and sleep through most of it. My daughter's way is the opposite. All of a sudden she comes out with all sorts of noisy, active games. We are experiencing monster attacks and hundreds of marching bands just to name a few. Also she always wants to go outside and jump in the puddles which sends a message to my rainy-drainy brain that I'll have to do laundry tonight as well.
If I had as much energy as she does I would conquer the world by now.
So while I was reading the news I heard an optimistic voice"Mommy, let's dance!". "Dance? That's the last thing I want to do now", I thought. But I gave it a try.
I pulled our educational preschool songs, put the CD inside the system and unwillingly turned around to meet lightened up face of my pumpkin.
We were dancing it away till the CD stopped then I played it again twice after that. We had so much fun! It felt like we snicked out for our girls' night out! It was our little secret party. We had our bonding time!
Not only it was simply a good time spent together, my daughter refreshed some basic concepts that were long put away on the back shelf of her brain. And as far as me...I got my cardio out of the way! LOL
It was pretty silly but what don't we, moms, do for our kids and their well-being! And by the time we finished fooling around, the rain has stopped. Freedom!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Gender Stereotyping in Our Lives

Have you ever asked a toddler girl what her favorite color is?
Have you ever tried putting a pink polo shirt on a little boy(check out fashion section of any men's magazine!!)?
It's not that I am trying to say that there is something wrong with girls liking pink or boys wearing dark colors. What I am trying to ask you is if they have a choice.
It seems as if everything is already pre-programed for them to like.
Go to any toy store and you'll see what I am talking about. There are aisles of pink where the flock of girls is heading, and there are aisles of blue, green and in between where little boys pull their parents to. And if you noticed, they never choose a "wrong" aisle. Or is it wrong? Maybe our kids are missing on some invaluable experience?
The other day I was looking for Lego's for my daughter (don't even make me start on the topic of pink!). She outgrew those chunky ones so I wanted to get something kind of abstract not to forget that we still have some imagination left. I couldn't find anything for 5 year -olds that doesn't involve superheroes and battleships! And again! Even if you choose to make it specifically for boys and girls, what about the latter? Can you make something attractive to girls? I am not talking about everybody, but some of them are not that much into Star Wars! Do you, manufacturers, think that girls do not become engineers and architects? You decide that they shouldn't be interested in anything except for Disney Princesses? What is wrong with girls playing with a construction set and boys changing diapers on a baby doll?
I am trying as much as I can to avoid this gender stereotyping. My daughter has a tool set and is enjoying it very much "fixing" the stuff around the house. She asked for a construction set because her friend had one and i thought it was a great idea. Don't get me wrong! She absolutely loves Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty just like most of her peers. She does all the stereotypical girly stuff as well. But my point is that she is not limited in choices! She can play with what she wants, just like later on in life she can BE what she wants.
There are some slight changes we can do in every day life to avoid gender stereotyping and help our children to be better adjusted individuals. Here are some simple steps.

  1. Watch what your child plays with. Children do gravitate to gender stereotypical toys and activities. Your goal as a parent is to expose them to different types of play. Try offering opposite gender toys(the earlier the better!). Give a boy a baby doll - one day he'll become a father and nowadays a lot of fathers are staying at home and watching kids while mothers are working. Give your little girl a tool set like I did. She'll never develop a feeling that a woman always need a man to survive! She'll just go out there and fix it herself. If this is too dramatic for your household, you can try nonsexist toys such as blocks, art materials, board and card games.

  2. Don't zero in on girls' appearance! I get aggravated all the time when people say things like "she is so cute" or "I like your sunglasses". It sends the wrong message that women are expected to look good and nothing else. Praise your daughters for their actions, good behavior, helping a friend, cleaning up, etc.

  3. Watch what you are saying to your child. I catch myself all the time! Do not say things like"boys don't cry" or "it's not ladylike to ... It might send a wrong message to your child who he/she is and what he/she can do.

  4. Be open-minded, never assume what your child enjoys doing. Knit with your son and change car oil with your daughter! You might be up for a surprise".

  5. Pay attention to stereotypes in books you are reading , TV shows you are watching, etc. Make sure your children are familiar with sensitive males and pro-active females.

  6. Talk about feelings with boys and about actions with girls. Boys are usually trained to be "tough", and girls are over-sensitive and passive.
Those are just the beginning steps for you to start. I think it is especially important nowadays to prepare our children to be aware of their opportunities. When you start paying attention to gender stereotyping you'll see a lot more nuances for yourself. You'll see what I mean.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

What Are You Saying, Dear?

Have you been in a situation when your friends ask you to interpret what your child is saying? I have. My daughter speaks and reads in two languages now. But in the beginning it was pretty tough for us. She started speaking early but sometimes she would mix and match two languages together and in addition to that she would add some "baby talk" when she did not know how to say something in either of the languages. It did sound strange.
What do you do? You stick to your plan and be patient! Your child will not speak the way you expect him/her to over night. It takes months, years to see results, especially if your child is bilingual.
Here is the plan. If you are speaking more than one language, you should practice it in every language you use.

  1. Read to your child at least 15 minutes every day. Ideally, as much as you can. Reading develops children's vocabulary immensely. Make it fun by choosing colorfully illustrated books, the characters your child likes, catchy rhymes, etc. You will be pleasantly surprised when one day you will see your little one cuddled up with a book all by him/herself.

  2. Discuss with your child the books you read, ask a lot of "wh"-questions to make your child say more than just a "yes" or "no". Ask him/her to retell you what was read to him/her.

  3. It might seem like a no-brainer but you should converse with your child more. We are all busy and tired and talking about dollies and toy trucks seem like a waste of our precious downtime. But it has a good pay of, trust me on that one. It gives your child a chance to ask questions and find out the answers he/she was hoping to get, learn new words, and also learn a thing or two about conversation ethics. The list of benefits is long and honestly, depends on you very much. So try to use new words daily, ask questions, speak in complete sentences with correct grammar, use a lot of descriptive attributes.

  4. Playing with puppets is a good example of learning through play. Invest in some or you can make homemade ones too.

  5. Singing songs and reciting nursery rhymes and poems help your child to get familiar with the sound system of the language. That is a good introduction to phonics. So sing and clap!

  6. Pretend-and-play toys(toy telephone, doll house, dress-up clothes, etc.) let you child practice his/her language skills when you are not around.

  7. I found that educational DVDs work great for my child. When I can not give her that one-on-one time, I pop one of those into a DVD-player and everybody is happy: she gets to see her favorite characters and I know that she spends quality time. After that we discuss what she has seen. Just be careful what you let him/her watch.

If you stick to that plan, you will see some results in near future. Be selective in what you expose your child to. Spend some quality time with him/her. Be a good role model. It worked for me, it is going to work for you.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Is Your Child Ready For Kindergarten?

Summer is a very stressful time for the parents of kindergartners-to-be. No wonder! You have to make a good judgement call that is going to affect the success in academics and future life and then career of your little one. It is a big decision and there is no room for mistakes. Many of you are wondering if your child is ready for this big step.
Here are some guidelines that I hope you'll find helpful in determining that.

Your child should:
  • use and understand many words
  • listen to a story
  • speak in complete sentences
  • ask questions
  • make up or retell stories
  • use adjectives to describe an object/event of the day
  • recite nursery rhymes/simple poems
  • converse with adults and peers
  • recognize some letters
  • recognize and print his/her name
  • use pencils/markers/crayons to draw and write

Your child should:

  • describe different colors/shapes/sizes/patterns
  • match colors/shapes/sizes/patterns
  • recognize some numbers (1-10)
  • count and match the number to an object
  • understand simple concepts like "heavier/lighter", "bigger/smaller", "longer/shorter", etc.
  • understand the concept "more/less/same"
  • understand the concept of sequence "first/next/last"
  • use words like "near", "far", "under", etc.

Your child should:

  • show curiosity, ask questions "where", "why", "what", and "how" about everyday things
  • be familiar with 5 senses and use them to describe, observe and predict the environment
  • show interest in simple and safe experiments

Social experience
Your child should:

  • work and play with other children
  • follow routines and directions
  • work out problems with others
  • understand people's feelings

Your child's teacher will also appreciate if he/she can dress him/herself independently and does not disrupt the classroom environment. Good manners go a long way too.
Most of the children who go to kindergarten are academically ready for the new challenges ahead of them. And even if they do not know as many letters or numbers as their peer friends, it is not a big deal. They will learn all that in kindergarten. Your main objective as a parent is to prepare your child mentally and emotionally for that. Creating just the right environment for learning is like preparing soil for the future seed planting.
And one more thing: nobody knows your child better than you do! Check with the list above and follow your gut feeling. Good luck!