Preparing Your Child for School
- Realise the value of play as a means of development.
It is important that in the early years we, (the parents, the pre-school and the school) make ample provision of a wide range of opportunities for the children to learn through play.
Areas of play which are valuable : vigorous play ( e.g. climbing), experimental play ( e.g. exploring sand), creative play ( e.g. painting), fantasy or pretend play ( e.g. dressing up).
- Encourage lots of conversation.
Talk to your child and listen with interest to what they are saying. Try to extend their conversation by asking them questions, encouraging them to make observations etc. Make the most of trips and visits. Develop their ‘mathematical’ understanding by looking at shapes and using vocabulary such as ‘over and under’, ‘behind and in front’, ‘most and least’, ‘tall and short’ etc.
- Value your child’s creative efforts.
Praise them and put their work up on the wall.
- Provide story books, paper, pencils, crayons, paints, scissors etc.
Give your child lots of positive encouragement to use them, but don’t pressurise them.
- Share and read books with your child.
Let your child see how a book works, move your finger on the page and point to each word as you read, so that your child will learn that the text moves from left to right and from the top to the bottom of the page. Encourage lots of discussion about the pictures. Take your child to the library regularly.
- Encourage children to recognise whole words.
Their name, words on cereal boxes, on adverts, shop signs etc.
- Introduce individual letters to your child.
Remember to call them by their sounds e.g. ‘a for apple’. Avoid using capital letter names as this will confuse your child when he / she starts school.
- Joined up handwriting.
Our handwriting and recognition of letter sounds are in a progression of ‘letter families’.
Encourage recognition of numbers and counting in practical situations. If counting is done ‘parrot fashion’ then your child will not have really grasped the concept of number. Before coming to school, play lots of games which use number, count objects practically, learn to count using fingers, experience people handling money, sing songs about numbers such as ‘Five Green Bottles’ etc.
- Encourage independence.
Let your child try to put on his / her own coat. Encourage your child to ‘try first’ before giving help. Praise them for trying.
- Social skills.
Making friends is very important for children. It is always easier for children to settle into school if they have already made some friends. If your child has attended a pre-school then this will help them mix with other children. At school they will work in a variety of ways; with the whole class, half the class, in small groups, pairs and in a one to one situation with an adult.
- Don’t worry.
If, for example, your child can’t recognise his / her name, remember that all children are different, there will be some children who are ready before others. You should, therefore, avoid comparing your child’s achievements with others.
Above all – childhood is a special time, so make the most of it and enjoy bringing up your child!