It’s a fact, the majority of preschool children would benefit significantly if their parents or carers, sat down with them, one-on-one, to teach them some basic skills before they begin school. The problem is that most people don’t know what basic skills to teach their child and where they should start to make sure their child is ready for school.
This blog provides you with a list of things you should be working towards in the months running up to the new school term. You will probably find that your child is well on their way to achieving these milestones if they haven’t already. If there are any that you feel your child may struggle with then spend a little one to one time each week working on them together.
Can your child get dressed themselves? Apart from the fact that if your child can dress themselves it is a tremendous help to you, it is also important that they are able to perform this task in a classroom situation. Imagine one teacher and one classroom assistant dressing thirty children after a P.E lesson!
Can your child hop, skip and jump? Gross motor skills such as running, skipping, jumping and hopping are important, because without reasonable gross motor control, it can be difficult for children to move onto developing the fine motor skills that are so essential to for writing and drawing.
Can your child count to 10? Counting and writing the numbers one to ten is something that your child will be taught during their first year of school. However, it will certainly do them no harm to practice their numbers before they start school. Practice counting objects around the house and introduce your child to their own age number so they can recognise it.
Can your child recognise and/or write their name? It is helpful if your child can recognise their name, and maybe even write it, to enable them to find their coat hook or other personal items quickly. Your child will soon begin learning letters, numbers and words in line with the curriculum. If your child can read and write some words before they start school, then great, but don’t panic if they can’t. If you wish to give your child a head start with their letter sounds I would recommend leapfrog fridge phonics.
Can your child use scissors to cut out neatly? Fine motor skills help us perform tasks such as: cutting using scissors; painting with a paint brush; writing; drawing; holding and manipulating small objects and using a knife and fork. These skills do not develop over night and children who struggle to perform activites which require gross motor control often take longer to develop these skills as well. Give your child the opportunity to practice using scissors and to develop these skill through every day tasks including doing their own buttons, using pegs, opening and closing jars, threading beads and playing with dough.
Can your child recognise colour and shapes? Spend some time checking that your child knows their basic colours and can recognise simple shapes.
Can your child follow a basic hygiene routine? It is important that your child is used to washing their hands after using the toilet and before eating. Schools are the perfect breeding grounds for germs and although the teacher will most likely remind your child to do this, it is best to get this good habit drummed into them as early as possible.
Is your child ready for school? Please let me know in the comments below!
Clare Rimmer, Director, Kip McGrath Education Centre, Lisburn.