Lots of parents ask us ‘how can I help my child get ready for school?’ The truth is you have been doing it since the day they were born, by the cuddles and kisses you gave, the songs you sang, the books you read and games you played everyday. All these experiences have built up in layers to give your child the key skills they need to start school. Many people worry that their child doesn’t know all of the alphabet or how to write their name but if they have the key skills they need to be ready for school then things like learning sounds, numbers and writing will all be quicker and easier to learn.
So what are the key skills children need before they start school, to help them be ready and raring to go. Here are some which we feel are really important:
- Be a good communicator so they can ask questions, communicate needs, ask for help and have conversations with their peers and adults – you can help by modeling how to ask questions and sharing feelings, praising them when they do it and playing role play games such as doctors or small world play.
- Be Independent so they can dress themselves, go to the toilet and eat lunch on their own – you can help your child by allowing more time to get ready, spend time showing them how to dress and undress, give them time to practice (sounds simple but often something which can be missed in busy lives)
- Be Curious so they will be interested in new things and keen to learn – spend time noticing the little things. Avoid putting your child under pressure to write or count, try and make everything playful and fun e.g. playing schools or shops
- Be careful listener so they can hear instructions, soak up new concepts and sounds and hold attention at new activities – you can help your child by removing distractions and background noise such as the TV or radio and play lots of turn taking games, reading stories and exploring sounds around them.
- Be physical so your child’s muscles (shoulder to fingers) are ready for writing and they develop core strength for sitting and all the new physical techniques they will learn – can help this by playing physical games, going to the park, having challenges to complete and opportunities to do fiddly activities e.g. threading, screwing
- Be confident so your child can feel happy and comfortable in a new environment – you can help by planning a series of activities and relaxed experiences in small steps, that will lead up to the first day of school such as visiting the school, doing the school run, choosing shoes, looking at photos of the school, talking about feelings. Also try to reduce your anxieties by being organised in advance so you are not anxious on the day.