When most parents think about school readiness, they think about Reading and writing but independence and social skill are just as, if not more important than knowing how to read and write when a child starts grade prep.
Independence skills such as being able to pack and unpack their own bag, tie their shoelaces, dress and undress themselves, use the toilet independently and being able to open their own lunch box and food packets is important for their daily function.
Social skills and the ability to play with others also plays an important role in your child’s school years, as making and keeping friends will make their years at school more enjoyable and will set them up for life long skills as an adult.
Fine motor skills are also really important to give your child the best start to school. This would include the ability to use a pencil whilst practicing a pincer grip and the ability to use scissors.
Academics wise, children should be able to recognize their own name and it’s a bonus if they are able write their name and recognize or at least be familiar with all of the letters in the alphabet.
It is also a beneficial if children going into their first year of primary school have a basic understanding of numbers and counting.
Other skills that will help your child to flourish are the ability to recognize rhyming words, knowing colours and basic 2D shapes.
What you can do?
-Read, read, read. Make reading a part of your daily life to enrich your child’s literacy skills, whether it be sitting down to read a book together, looking through comic books, reading menus together, pointing out letters and words in signs or having the subtitles on when watching TV.
-Offer arts and crafts activities to not only help your child strengthen their fine motor skills but to expand their creative thinking.
This could include things such as paper, scissors, pencils, textas, crayons, painting, threading, playdough, clay, collage, glue, colouring in sheets and stencils…the possibilities are endless.
-Take your child places where they can explore such as the zoo, museum, parks, playgrounds etc. Learning through play is the most valuable way for children under 7 years to learn.
-Play board games. This experience will not only be a lovely way to engage your child but will teach them how to sit and concentrate, take turns, practice numeracy skills, learn about concepts and build resilience.
-Take your child to childcare, playgroup and or Kinder. It will help them to develop their social skills, such as how to play with other children in a calm, sharing and rewarding way and will help them to develop their self-awareness and respect for others.
-Teach your child songs and nursery rhymes as music is such a powerful learning tool and is a fun way to develop literacy skills.
-When out and about, get your child to carry their lunch and drink bottle in a back pack. Encourage them to open their own packets and teach them what foods are appropriate to eat at what times of the day, (EG: you may want them to eat fruit first, followed by a sandwich and then snacks such as muesli bars.)
-Encourage your child to wipe themselves after passing bowel movements so that they are confident and ready by the time they start school.