Get your child ready to start school

Kapi-Mana News - - PARENTING -

As a par­ent and teacher, my chil­dren’s ed­u­ca­tion is very im­por­tant to me. I am sure it is the same for all par­ents. We want to give them the best start pos­si­ble in life and their ed­u­ca­tion plays a large role.

I thought I would fo­cus this month on how we, as par­ents, can nur­ture our chil­dren’s love of learn­ing and do some re­search into what skills and knowl­edge they would ben­e­fit from hav­ing when they first start school.

So what do they need to know? I spoke to a num­ber of teach­ing col­leagues about this, not hav­ing spent much time in a ju­nior class­room my­self over the last cou­ple of years, and they all had sim­i­lar ideas on which skills chil­dren ben­e­fit from hav­ing when they start school.

I also at­tended an open evening at Bai­ley’s child­care cen­tre, where their re­search among lo­cal schools had pro­duced a list of de­sired skills for chil­dren en­ter­ing their first year at school. The most im­por­tant of these skills in­clude:

Recog­nis­ing the let­ters of the al­pha­bet, but, more im­por­tantly, the sounds those let­ters make

Recog­nis­ing num­bers and count­ing to at least 10

Be­ing able to recog­nise and write their name.

Some other skills deemed use­ful for chil­dren start­ing school in­clude be­ing able to use scis­sors to cut var­i­ous lines and shapes, be­ing re­spon­si­ble for them­selves and their be­long­ings, be­ing able to wait and take turns and lis­ten­ing to (and fol­low­ing) in­struc­tions.

Oh, how I wish that last one came nat­u­rally at home.

As par­ents, we are our chil­dren’s first teach­ers in life and can have such a huge im­pact on their early learn­ing.

There are so many small ways we can en­cour­age and teach them at home and when out and about.

We do many of these with­out con­scious ef­fort on a daily ba­sis, such as count­ing out ap­ples at the su­per­mar­ket and read­ing bed­time sto­ries with them.

The im­por­tant thing, I be­lieve, is to keep it fun and if they are not ready, leave it for a while. If we push too hard and try to force the learn­ing, we of­ten turn chil­dren right off the sub­ject/skill we are try­ing to teach.

Not ev­ery child will start school with all of the knowl­edge or skills men­tioned above and that is fine. Each child will learn at their own pace and in their own way.

My son Bai­ley is 31⁄ and has a very short at­ten­tion span. He just wants to run, climb and be the best Transformer he can be, so it can be hard at times to in­ter­est him in any­thing re­quir­ing sit­ting and con­cen­trat­ing. With him it is all about quick teach­ing mo­ments grabbed here and there – five min­utes while he is at the ta­ble be­fore din­ner, or while he is wait­ing for the bath to be run.

We sound out words in the car on our way to day­care and count things we see while wait­ing at the lights. As long as it is seen as a game and en­ter­tains him, he is keen.

And he soon lets me know when he’s ‘‘had enough of this game, Mum’’. Then it’s back to who brought their Bey­blade toy to day­care and what snack he’ll have when he gets home.

If you are look­ing for more ideas and re­sources to help kick-start your chil­dren’s ed­u­ca­tion I rec­om­mend vis­it­ing the Mana Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre.

Bingo! Num­ber and word games are a great way of get­ting lit­tle kids’ brains tick­ing over, while also keep­ing it fun.

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