As parents we all want the best for our children. Something we hear a lot when our children turn 4 is School Readiness. But what does this mean? Should your child be reading and writing before they start school? Should they count to 10 or beyond? Or is there something more we should be thinking about in order to prepare our children for School? Here are Play.Together.Learn.Together’s 5 essential tips that you should encourage to help prepare your child get school ready.
1. Develop independence
At School your child will be expected to be responsible for many more aspects of their life that they might have been used to having help with. My advice is to use the Summer before the start school to encourage them to become more independent in tasks which you would usually help them with. Such as cleaning their own bottoms, washing their hands without prompting, put on their own jumper, coat and shoes. You can set them tasks that involve doing their own zips on bags and coats. Create fun activities to help them remember to take important items such as reading books out their bag. So, if you are off to the beach or on a day trip somewhere, have the children pack their own bag and be responsible for the items inside it.
2. Create resilience
It is felt by many that we live in a Nanny state, children have gotten used to everything being done for them and given to them. They have a sense of injustice if things don’t go their way. It is our responsibility to help them understand that we cannot always get what we want. That our friends are not always going to play the same games that we want to in the way that we want to play them. Ensure that you are being consistent with your child and that you are demonstrating this to them. You will come across obstacles in your life, show your child how you react to them in a positive way so that they have good role modelling. I find that books are a good way to help children understand this, one that I have used with my daughter is Two Sides by Polly Ho Yen.
3. Understand Diversity
Now more than ever it is important we teach our children that everyone is different and that is OK. It’s not something they should be scared of, but that they should respect it. Books are again another brilliant way to help children develop respect and tolerance of others. Small world play is also something which I find essential in helping with this. Ensure that you have toys of all different colours so that it becomes normal for your child to see this.
4. Support Risk Taking
I know from experience that a parent wants their child to stay safe and not get hurt. Children are actually very good at conducting their own risk assessment. Let them climb rocks, let them try to ride their scooter in a different way, let them take a hand off their bike when they are riding it, let them climb trees. Just make sure that you are there with them supervising them and supporting them. Offer positive language when you see them taking risks, don’t say “Be careful” say, take it slower, look where you are putting your feet, instead. Something to help them focus on what they should actually do to be careful and keep themselves safe.
5. Develop Fine Motor Skills
Everyone is keen for their child to write, but it is important that they have the muscle strength and development to be able to do this. Your way of helping with this is to give your child lots of different activities which will help to develop their muscle strength. Playdough, scissor skills, painting, threading, posting or mark making are just some of the activities which can help with this. On my Instagram page there are lots of the activities which I have done with my children to help develop theirs.
Remember there is plenty of time for the teacher’s to help your child recognise the sounds that letters make and blend them together, as well as learning about counting. There is nothing wrong with parents helping their child with these as well, but please don’t think that this is all they need to know in order to be School Ready.