Thursday, August 11, 2016

Ready for Preschool? 4 things more important than numbers and letters.

It's the time of year when teachers are going through their back to school lists, planning our lessons, our classroom set up, and contemplating how we're going to do it all. Parents of first time preschool students are working to get their little ones ready for school, and I've learnt over the past two years that that usually involves drilling them in the alphabet, colours, and numbers. Most children are naturally curious about how we label the world around us, and it should be a topic on conversation with our little ones. Too often, that's the main focus, leaving some important skills unaddressed. Here are four skills to work on before preschool starts:

Eating at the table: This may seem basic to some and unnecessary to others, but if your child goes to school, they will probably eat there. Snack time at preschool is not just important to maintain blood sugar levels, but to teach children social graces. Many small children are used to grazing at home. While small, frequent snacks are healthy, walking around with a baggie of crackers is both a choking hazard and a hygiene issue. Your child's teacher will thank you if she doesn't have to spend three months reminding him that we eat at the table.

Queuing: When I homeschooled my own children, the emphasis brick and mortar schools placed on standing on line was often decried as part of making our children into mindless drones. But knowing how to stand on line is an important part of living in society. As tempting as it is to keep your little one strapped in the cart or run errands when they aren't with you, gently teaching them how to line up to pay for things will make them better citizens. We all know those people who never learnt the lesson, and who wants to raise THAT person?

Fine motor strength: Before your child is physically and intellectually able to write, her little hands need to be strong enough. Cutting playdough (with real scissors!), using tongs,eating applesauce and yoghurt with a spoon (rather than from a pouch) and these squeezing activities will make sure than when your child's brain is ready to write, her hands will be too.

Sitting through a story, in a group: Hopefully, your local library has preschool story time. If so, taking your child is one of the best things you can do for them: perhaps one of the most important. Sit with them and gently redirect them when they start to move all over. Aim for sitting through one story, at first.

Bonus: Teacher's Coffee Order: Just joking. Maybe. Depends on your child's energy level.


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