During that time in your family life when you don’t yet need to focus on buying your child a school uniform, prepare packed lunches, or apply for school admissions, you can take steps to give your child a head start before they take those cautious first steps through the school gates.
This will make life easier for them, and will give them the boost they need to perform well both academically and socially.
So, if you have younger children at home with you, whether they’re a year or more away from starting school, or somewhere nearer, these are the ways that you, as a parent, could help your children at an early stage.
- Teach them important skills at home
Thinking about the basic skills that your children will be learning at home, such as reading, writing, spelling, and arithmetic, give your child a head start by finding ways to teach them these things.
So, you might spend time reading to your children, and as soon as they’re old enough to understand, start pointing out certain words to them, with phonetic clues to help them grasp what these words are.
You might also play word and number games with your children, perhaps using the resources provided in the previous link, or by purchasing simple toys and board games available online or from your local early learning centre.
You can even teach your children these skills during your day to day life. So, if you’re baking biscuits with your children, you could encourage them to count the number of biscuits on the plate. Or when your children are watching their favourite shows on the television, you could ask them to sound out any words that might flash up on the programmes they are watching.
- Enrol your children into early education groups and classes
Traditionally, these will be nursery and preschool classes, so look online for any that are happening in your area, and enrol your children onto them. Not only will they get a head start academically this way, but through interacting with other children, they will also start to learn a few social skills too. And don’t forget 3 years olds get 30 funded hours per week so make the most of it!
Of course, early education goes beyond any kind of traditional classroom setting. If there are any holiday clubs for preschool children in your area, take them along. Check with your local library for any available activities open to preschoolers. Book your children onto dance and swim classes at your local leisure centre. And do a Google search for any other local activities that will give your child the opportunity to engage with learning before he or she goes to school.
- Encourage positive behaviour
Do yourself, your child, and their eventual teacher a favour, and teach your little one positive behaviour skills before they start school.
So, you might invite other children over for playdates, for example, as this will give you the opportunity to see how well your child interacts with others. This will let you see how well they share their toys, how they handle conflict with their peers, and how they show other signs of respect. If there are any problems, you can find ways to teach your child the skills, perhaps by playing games that promote sharing skills, and by role-playing situations, so your child can find better ways to manage their behaviour.
The school environment can be challenging for children, so the more you can do at an early stage to help your kids, the better. Take a look at these suggestions and if you have any further tips for, be sure to share them in the comments! x
This is a collaborative post.