As the holiday period comes to an end, most young children are eager to go to school. They talk and talk about it. They want to learn how to read and write. And they are anxious to please and do well. In fact, most children feel so excited they begin to get “butterflies” inside.
Preparing children for school gives both the parent and a child a sense of confidence and direction helping the child in particular to get the best out of school.
Below are some practical ways on how to prepare children for school:
Limiting the amount of time children spend watching television and videos or playing computer games, which are passive, isolating activities.
Instead emphasize such activities as formal and informal play groups, encourage activities that involve active learning and put children in contact with their peers.
Reading to your children every day from the time they are babies from both fiction and age-appropriate, non-fiction picture books. Even though very young children may not understand the story or poem you are reading, they learn a lot about language just from hearing your voice.
Expose your children to language. Share what you know, talk about what interests you, ask your children to talk with you about what they are interested in and why. Aside from helping form a close relationship with your children, this type of ongoing dialogue pays off once children enter school.
Children who have had a chance to develop a large vocabulary are often capable of handling more information than those with limited language skills.
Drawing. Children begin to draw and write very naturally. Simply provide them with a comfortable space, materials for writing (chunky pencils and markers are ideal tools for little fingers to grasp), paper and the freedom to experiment.
A child’s first writing will likely look like “Zig Zag”, loops and drawings. Over time (and with lots of encouragement for their first efforts), children will begin to incorporate some letter shapes.
Math. Children who are encouraged to learn the many uses for math in the “real world” are more likely to enjoy math once in school.
Clocks, telephones, road signs, even price tags on canned goods at the supermarket all involve number recognition. Make a game out of counting all your children’s collection of toys. Count out the number of forks, spoons needed to set the table.
Allow them to have knowledge of the world. Trips to the bank, playground, restaurants and other parts of the neighborhood, town, state or country provide wonderful opportunities for expanding children’s knowledge of the world beyond their homes.
As you travel about, talk informally about what interests you and ask your children to do the same. You can encourage children to think creatively about what they are experiencing by asking open-ended questions. Let your children’s curiosity fill in the blanks.
Getting plenty of physical activity. To learn to control and coordinate the muscles in their arms and legs, children need to throw and catch balls, run, jump, climb and dance to music.
These types of activities give them the strength to hold their arms steady and in a proper position for writing and their upper bodies upright in order to sit for lengths of time (an ability that becomes important once they reach school age.) To learn to control and coordinate the smaller muscles in hands and fingers, children need to color, put together objects like puzzles, use child-safe scissors, practice zipping their jackets and pick up small objects like cereal pieces, dried fruit .