There are many fun things you can do at home to prepare your child for school. Parent Centre suggests that children will do well in school when their parents understand the teaching and learning that happens in school, and that parents can support their child's learning at home if they understand what happens in the classroom.
Doing activities with your child will help them learn things from a young age. These activities may include playing number games, singing nursery rhymes and reading. Learning is probably already taking place in your home, so many of these suggestions just build upon what you may already doing at home with your child.
Use things that your child is interested in to get them involved in learning activities. For example, if your child likes toy animals, you can use toy animals to talk about numbers, colours, shapes and sizes.
The information below contains suggestions on how to help your child prepare for different lessons they might have at school.
Using a timetable with your child will help them to understand daily and weekly routines and activities. You can write or use photographs and pictures to show what will be happening every day that week. You can split the day into morning, afternoon and night. Your child will begin to know what will be happening and when, and will begin to develop the concept of today, tomorrow, yesterday and the weekend.
Many of the suggested activities that follow will develop more than one skill. For example, cooking can involve literacy, maths and science (through reading the recipe, weighing and measuring the ingredients, tasting the food and talking about food and healthy eating). You could even write a book about 'How to make...' for a family member of friend.
Your child will need to pay attention for long periods and learn to finish what they start. As a guide, children may be expected to pay attention in a group activity for about 20 minutes at the beginning of their school life. Look for signs of tiredness and fatigue - your child may have to try harder than hearing children which can be exhausting.
Reading is a fun way of increasing your child's attention span. Other activities include board games, jigsaw puzzles and card games will help your child to concentrate and learn about finishing something they have started.
Place different objects on a tray (for example, a comb, a cup, a ball, a fork, a remote control), ask your child to look at the things on the tray for a while and try to remember them. Then ask your child to turn away while you take an object off the tray and hide it. Then ask them to look at the tray again and tell you which object is missing. You can take turns in this game, with your child taking something off the tray next. This game can help develop observation skills and memory.
Through drawing and art you can help your child develop their observation skills and writing skills. Skills like holding a pencil correctly are very important in school, and useful to prepare your child with skills like this before starting school. This will help them when they start writing and drawing in school. Help your child be encouraging them to draw and colour in. Give your child different kinds and paper and different crayons, textas and pencils to scribble with. Show them how to use new materials. Don't tell your child what to draw - let them be creative. Ask your child to tell you about their picture and display their artwork proudly in your home.
Art can also help your child become familiar with different colours and shapes. Place a few objects on a table and tell them what colours they are (for example, a green apple, an orange and a blue building block). You could tell them which colour each object is, then ask them to name each colour in a different order. You could then take one away and ask which colour has gone, or which colours are left on the table. You can do the same activity with objects of different shapes. There are a lot of simple games you can play every day. While walking to school, ask them what colour things are as you pass them in the street (for example, the pink flowers, the man's blue coat, the green traffic light).
Playing with plasticine or modelling clay is a good way of helping your child to make shapes, and make objects they have observed. Give your child a simple object to try first and ask them to make it. Help them if they are not sure at first, perhaps by making one yourself. This activity can help your child to identify different shapes and put them together, and encourages them to carefully observe objects.
You could write out words in dots and get your child to write over the dots. This may help with concentration and hand-eye coordination, as well as helping them develop their skills in handling a pencil. Other activities such as finger painting, dot-to-dot pictures, tracing and copying, and drawing on blackboards or in sand can also help develop these skills. You can also teach your child to recognise their own name and to write it.
You can help your child to learn to enjoy writing by writing for different purposes with your child. If your child sees you writing, they will want to do the same. You could write a shopping list together, your child could write letters to family or friends, invitations to a tea party for their teddies, or their own story books. Let your child become confident with writing before you begin to think about spelling and forming letters correctly. You can help your child with writing letters and learning their names and sounds when they are ready.
You can introduce letters by their shape. Focus on one letter at a time, your child can trace the letter, draw it in sand or other similar materials on a table, draw it in the air or make it out of plasticine. Tell them the letter sound, name and sign, whichever is the most appropriate for your child, and then play games with the letter name. Find things in different places that begin with that letter. You could make a picture of things that begin with that letter by cutting up catalogues and magazines and labelling the pictures together. Using labels for everyday objects around the home (for example, bed, chair, window, table, toy) will improve their understanding of letter and words and will increase their vocabulary.
Reading with your child and encouraging them to follow the words can help them become familiar with words and sentences. Children will be much more interested in reading if they feel fully involved in the story. Reading different kinds of books (for example, storybooks, activity books, reference books and so on) can help broaden your child's reading experiences. You can include reading in playtime. For example, your child could read to their toys as part of a game.
Reading with your child and using books in play can be especially helpful as it helps to develop your child's vocabulary as well as making them familiar with items that will be used in school. Reading or playing games in groups can help with your child's social skills, including taking turns and considering other people's feelings.
You can use everyday activities to develop our child's maths skills. Try simple things like helping your child to count the steps as you walk upstairs, or counting how many people are in a photograph or picture. You can also count objects. For example, say things such as "We have two apples and three bananas, how many things do we have altogether?"
Sorting games can also help develop your child's maths skills. Ask your child to sort coins into different sizes, or other things into piles according to their shape, and count them. Then ask them which pile has more things in it. This can help them understand 'less' and 'more'. Another activity to help them understand this would be to count the number of red cars going past you while you are out. Then count the blue cars, the see if there were more blue cars or red cars.
Once your child is familiar with counting, you can also help them to start understanding addition and subtraction. A simple way of doing this might be to show them four objects, then take away and ask how many are left.
Measuring and weighing different things around the home will also help your child to develop language and new concepts (for example, tall and short, heavy and light) and then other associated language.
You can play shops with your child so they begin to understand money, using play money and real values of 5c and 10c coins when they are ready. Your child will have lots of fun and this will also develop their speaking or signing and listening and watching skills. It will help them learn how to greet people and start conversations.
Doing activities like this can help your child to see how much fun maths can be, and how it fits in with wider world.
Cookery can be a fun and productive way of helping your child to get experience of planning, measuring and timing.
Many games can help your child become familiar with some of the things they might do at school. One thing you can do is play catch with a ball. This kind of game helps develop hand-eye coordination. Stand quite near each other at first, and as your child becomes more confident with catching the ball, move further away from each other. You can also play games, such as hop scotch, which help with movement and balance. You can include counting in this game too.
Perhaps do some basic dance routines together, using jumping, stepping, clapping, waving and star jumps for example. Do these things one at a time, or perhaps jump and clap at the same time. This will help your child move different parts of their body at different times, and will help them to understand how they can move separate parts of their body to make routines.
Understanding the body and being able to identify different body parts are useful skills for your child to have before they start school. Action songs such as 'heads, shoulders, knees and toes' are a fun way of helping your child to get to know the names of different body parts.
You can talk about the senses - sight, smell, touch, hearing and taste. To help them understand these, you can play games. For example, ask your child to smell an orange and then ask them to smell a peeled banana, and then compare the smells. You can have discussions about why some people wear glasses if they need help to see properly, or hearing aids if they need help with their hearing.
Encourage your child to think about healthy eating. Talk about which foods are healthy and which foods are not. Talk about the consequences of eating healthily, and the consequences of eating unhealthy foods.
Try to get your child to explore the world around them. Talk about different kinds of animals and the different places that animals live (for example, fish live in the sea, koalas live in gum trees, and worms live in the ground). Find pictures of different animals and plants, and use storybooks about animals. You can explore the garden or local park for creepy crawlies (insects). You can write details in a book, or draw pictures, and label them. You could plant seeds and learn about what plants need to grow. Alfalfa or mung bean seeds are very good for his as they grow very quickly and then can be eaten, or you could plant sunflower seeds for a longer activity.
The Veronica James Science Challenge for Hearing Impaired Children is held each year at the University of Sydney. For more information...
Children will use computers at school. It might be useful to help them become familiar with the different parts of a computer and how to use them. Show them the screen, the keyboard and the mouse. Show your child how to type in letters and use the mouse. If you do not have a computer at home, libraries often have computers that you can use with your child.
Have fun helping your child to learn!
09-Nov-2015 8:03 PM (AEST)