5 Great Skills To Teach Your Child Before They Start School
Previously I spoke about choosing the right time to send your child to school. Today, I would like to take a step back and talk about some of the things you can do, in the years before your child starts Prep, to make sure that their first years of school are as comfortable, enjoyable and productive as possible. While I always stress that it is not your job to teach your child complex mathematical or literary concepts before they’re ready, here are 5 great skills that you can teach your child before they take the first steps into their education.
1. Empathetic Imagination
Children are not born with the ability to empathise with other people. Until the ages of 2-4 most children have trouble understanding other people’s points of view, or even grasping the idea that other people have feelings of their own. A strong sense of empathetic imagination is something that every child will eventually learn, but the more productively it is developed by the time they start school, the easier things will be for everyone. You can help your child develop their empathetic imagination through play: ask them to imagine how a character in a book, or a doll that they are playing with, is feeling. Try to give them as many words to describe how people might feel and encourage them to employ them as often as possible.
2. Fine Motor Skills
We often forget that writing is as much a physical activity as it is a mental one. When learning to write for the first time, young students can often be hampered by their lack of fine motor skills; their brain might be capable of understanding the concepts, but their hands have trouble making the letters. Teaching your child how to hold and use pens can give them a significant advantage when learning how to write, and it can be as easy as introducing them to fun activities such as drawing, tracing and colouring.
3. Active Listening
One of the most difficult skills that children need to learn at school is how to actively listen. More than ever before, students are suddenly expected to sit quietly and give their undivided attention to whoever is talking. Teaching your child basic active listening skills, such as making eye contact, not interrupting and using questions to clarify information, will help them fit in much easier at school. It will also make your job as a parent significantly easier!
4. Understanding Of Values And Quantities
Your child doesn’t need to be an expert at mathematics before they commence school, but it is a good idea to give them a basic understanding of values and quantities. For example, if presented with two objects, students should be able to tell which one is larger, longer, heavier or more numerous. Ideally, the more concrete of an understanding of numeracy that your child has, the more natural they will find mathematical concepts when it’s time to start school. For more advice on how to do this, check out our blog post on ways you can improve your child’s numeracy skills.
Creativity is not just about being able to paint beautiful pictures or tell interesting stories. Creativity is the ability to look at a situation and, instead of always following a familiar path, thinking, “what are the different ways that I can approach this.” Developing creativity in your child is easy because children naturally love being creative. All you have to do is offer them opportunities to paint, draw, tell stories, act out scene, dress up and build things.
Have I missed anything? What other skills do you think are important? Let me know in the comments below!