Anyone have a child starting school next year? I do.
And I always wonder how he is going to go – is he advanced enough to actually sit through six hours of school five days a week? Does he know enough? Where should he be at mentally? Dr. Google led me to an interesting article featured in The Mirror UK. And while the list can look a little intimidating, it was nice to see that my Master 4 is actually almost there…almost. Sure he spells his name with a 4 and he usually misses half of the ‘teens’ when counting to 20, but, meh, small steps.
But this got me thinking – there is so much more to starting your children on the road to a well-rounded education and preparing them for school, apart from the basics in ABC’s and nursery rhymes. So, here are some additional things to teach your kids before they start school. And, if the whole prospect of your baby starting big kid school next year is sending you into a bit of a panic, be sure to check out our Five Things to Tell My Son Before He Turns Five – guaranteed to help calm the nerves.
According to Janine Spencer of Brunel University, before starting school, parents should focus on teaching their children the following:
1. How to write their name.
This may be a lot easier for some children. For example, Anna is probably going to learn how to write her name a lot sooner than Dominique.
2. All (or most) of the alphabet.
LMNOP may come out as “MandMIPee” but close enough.
3. How to use a computer.
Isn’t this crazy that this is a requirement for five-year-olds now? See, letting the iPad babysit my son for all of these years has paid off. Winning!
4. Dress and feed themselves.
They may not be able to cut up a decent-sized steak just yet, but the basics in fork and spoon etiquette should be mastered by now.
5. How to make up stories.
But also the difference between a made-up story and the truth.
6. Count and answer number-based questions.
They don’t need to know how to do long division, but they should be able to count up to 20 and have some number recognition.
7. Do a jigsaw puzzle.
The number of pieces will depend on your child, but essentially, if they can put puzzle pieces together, you are golden.
8. To ask questions.
Engaging in everyday conversation is essential for teaching your children how to ask questions and how to answer one. Some kids are shyer than others and thus, it might take them some time to get the courage to ask someone new a question or to reply with an answer. But engaging in conversation every day will help. So talk, talk, talk.
9. Know the difference between past and future.
A good way to check this is to discuss your child’s birthday. Ask them about their past birthday (what did you do) and about an upcoming birthday (what would you like to do).
10. How to play pretend (use their imagination).
Some children live in the clouds right away. My son spends most of his day as a superhero and insists on going to ‘work’ every morning for about a half an hour. Pretend play, everything from building blanket tents that double as castles, banging on pots and pans as part of a rock band and creating cupcakes with play dough, is important for children this age.
11. How to say please and thank you.
Instill it in their heads that ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ are part of every day talk. However, it is also important to teach them the meaning behind the word, gratitude.
12. To smile.
A smile goes a long way, even when you are a child. Laugh lots, smile more and your kids will follow.
13. To wait for others.
Patience… ahhh — patience. This might be one of the hardest things to teach a child, but it is important that each one learns, contrary to what they might think, there are others in the world that we need to consider.
14. To be empathetic.
Following on this thought, teaching your children how others feel and how to recognise the feelings of someone else is essential.
15. The importance of family
Friends come and go, but family is forever. At this age, your children will probably prefer to be with Mum and Dad rather than their friends, but as they get older, friends may start to seem more important. Teaching them that their family circle is their safety zone will give them a safe netting to fall back on if they are burned by their friends in the future.
16. To be aware of their bodies.
Children should understand that their private parts are theirs and should not be touched by others. They should also know not to touch others and they should be able to say something if they are feeling uncomfortable.
17. Their full name and the names of their parents
Bonus points if they also know their phone number and address.
18. Stranger danger
Some children are naturally wary of strangers while others are more than happy to talk to (or even go with) anyone. If your child falls into the latter group, then it is a good idea to find some books on stranger danger before they start school.
19. How to play by themselves and with a group
There will be plenty of group activities during school as well as alone time. Your child should feel comfortable doing an activity on his own (whether it’s colouring or playing in the sand box), but he should also be comfortable playing with a group of friends.
20. How to compromise.
Kids need to understand that they can’t always get their own way. And teaching them to compromise is a great way to get them to see that the world doesn’t revolve around them.
21. How to organise their feelings.
Feelings. Oh feelings. Kids are little balls of emotion and at this young age, they are not capable of understanding what to do with the various feelings inside. It is our job to help them organise these feelings, to sort them and to deal with them accordingly. This is an ongoing lesson. Hell, I still don’t know how to handle anger.
22. The importance of drinking water
Having water on hand for them to drink from a young age will help them to naturally ask for water and crave it, rather than juice, soft drink and other sugary drinks.
23. How to pick up after themselves.
Teach them to pick up their toys after playing. Other tasks that children at this age can help with include clearing their plate after meals, putting their clothes in their rooms or drawers and unpacking their backpack after school.
24. How to check for traffic (both ways).
This doesn’t mean that children should be able to wander the streets alone at this age, but they should be familiar with stopping and looking both ways before crossing.
25. How to properly brush their teeth.
By the time they start school, they should be able to brush their teeth, fronts and backs, properly and for the right amount of time.
26. How to share with others.
Sharing — the achilles heel for children, but it is essential that children learn how to share. This will come through learning respect, empathy and compromise.
27. And most importantly, how to make a decent cup of tea.
Okay, maybe this is a little ambitious for a five-year-old, but if not by the time they start school, then at least by the time they are eight!
Source: The Mirror UK
Jenna Galley lives in Cairns, Queensland with her two small children, Jacob and Jade, and dog Koah. She is a freelance writer and small business owner as well as an avid reader and wine drinker.