27 February 2019

Preparing your Child for Primary School

Published by Stamford American School Hong Kong
Renovation-and-refit-projects

Moving onto a new school from kindergarten and preschool can often be a source of anxiety for children and parents too. However, like any stepping stone in life preparation is the key in order to handle change better. To help children get ready for primary school parents are often concerned about the admissions interview process and meeting academic requirements but preparation for school goes beyond the ABC’s and 123’s. In fact, there are many skills that children need to support academics that at first glance don’t seem related to school readiness. A lot of the fundamental skills like motor skills (fine and gross), pre-reading and pre-writing skills as well as emotional security to give your child a smooth start and a successful year at school.

As part of schooling, we want children to learn to read and write, however before they can master these formal tasks, they need to acquire a variety of motor, visual, auditory, perceptual and emotional skills that will lay down the foundations for formal learning.  To be able to sit at a table and write on a piece of paper involves gross motor development (body muscles to keep upright); fine motor skills (hold and control a pencil); perceptual skills (orientation of paper and of letters during deterioration) as well as concentration skills (focus on task at hand). Similarly reading and mathematics also require pre-existing skills. To build these skills, we can’t just give children a pencil, and a book but must engage their minds and muscles in different ways, which involve a variety of materials and approaches.

Some great ways to develop fine motor skills include puzzles, play dough, pegs, tweezers, threading etc. By running, crawling and climbing, children develop the necessary coordination to embrace challenges as well as develop a spatial understanding which also supports their learning of math.

Literacy is another essential foundational skill that can be supported and developed even before a child starts reading. This can mean visiting the library, listening to audiobooks and even identifying letters and numbers in everyday objects and tasks. Learning can happen during fun family activities like looking at license plates and street signs, compiling grocery lists and baking cupcakes (reading recipes and measuring quantities) Showing your child that learning is all around them will not only increase their awareness but also help foster their natural curiosity for learning.

Emotional development is sometimes overlooked but vital for a smooth transition, even something as basic as a good sleep routine and ensuring limited screen time before bed helps support school readiness. Deciding what to wear and gaining independence by carrying one’s bag are also essential to get a child ready for school and avoid morning struggles for parents. You can even make it fun and see if your child can beat their readiness record for getting dressed and ready. When children are confident, independent and able to follow a routine they can settle much better into the longer school day in a larger social setting.

If you are sending your child to a kindergarten or preschool, they are likely learning a lot of the necessary skills. However, parents can support all these areas of development at home, and why not have some fun, online platforms provide many creative solutions to support all these areas.

About the Author: Mia Nortje, Counselor

Mia joined Stamford with over 15 years of international teaching experience in South Africa, Botswana, and Mauritius. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Education, an Honor’s degree in Educational Psychology and is close to completing her Master’s degree in Educational Psychology. Mia has a background of extensive international experience as a Teacher, Lecturer, Student Support educator, Coordinator and Psychologist.

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