Get your child ready to start school
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.