Prep pressure, have you felt it? As parents we want to do the best for our children and naturally, we all want our children to look like budding geniuses when they arrive for their first day of school. We may spend hours teaching them to write down their name or to count to 100. While these skills are foundational to their academic career, more important than letters and numbers are the life skills that parents pass on to their children. In this article we will explore some of those skills and give you ideas of activities to try with your children at home.

Critical Thinking

It is important for children to develop the ability to analyse, understand and draw conclusions based on their surroundings. Critical thinking skills aid in decision making, problem solving and higher order reasoning, for example, thinking about what they need to pack for a day at Prep. 

Tips for developing skills:

  • role playing with other children, e.g. super heroes, pirates 
  • building structures with blocks or LEGO 
  • playing board games 
  • ask your child open-ended questions and guide their thinking process
  • when reading, ask your child to predict what might happen next in the story.

Social and Communication Skills

Social skills are foundational to success in life, but the skill set is broader than simply having the ability to make new friends. Verbal and non-verbal communication, body language and facial expressions will enable your child to interact with others, and allow them to recognise and respond to social cues. Ensure your child is given the opportunity to socialise with other children their age prior to school. This will not only aid in their ability to socialise and make friends, but it will give them more confidence when starting school with a class full of new faces.  

Tips for developing skills:

  • eliminate baby language and use standard words when speaking with younger children
  • listen, make eye contact and give your child your full attention when they speak
  • have discussions at meal times and talk about experiences, e.g. ‘What did you enjoy most about our outing today?’
  • give your child clear instructions and increase the complexity as they progress by giving them multiple instructions at once, e.g. ‘Take your shoes off then put them in the cupboard’. 

Why are Cooloola children so CONFIDENT and CREATIVE?

Discover the unique COOLOOLA LEARNING EXPERIENCES that create confident and creative learners.

Why are Cooloola Children so CONFIDENT and CREATIVE?

Discover the unique COOLOOLA LEARNING EXPERIENCES that create confident and creative learners.

Emotional Development

Learning to perceive, understand and manage emotions will help your child to develop emotional resilience, and it will encourage them to respond to challenges or changes in a positive way. These skills will form a foundation for your child’s ongoing development and will establish strength in their mental health and wellbeing.  

Tips for developing skills:

  • let your child know that it is okay to ask for help and set an example by asking them to help you with tasks
  • encourage your child to explore and try new things
  • guide them in working through problems with a positive perspective 
  • talk to them about their feelings and explain emotions, e.g. ‘You’re crying because you’re sad’
  • discuss facial expressions and emotions of characters in books
  • help your child to recognise and empathise with how others are feeling.

Focus and Self Regulation

Self control and focus can be taught through habits and routine. From infancy, children thrive on routine. It is important to adjust their schedule as school nears so that they feel well equipped when the time comes. Doing quiet, slower-paced activities will give your child the chance to build concentration and focus. 

Self regulation is the ability to adapt to varying situations and recognise what type of behaviour is appropriate. Encourage your child to independently decide what is and is not socially acceptable, and to make choices with confidence. 

Tips for developing skills:

  • give your child the chance to practice quiet activities like reading or doing a puzzle 
  • as Prep nears, practice seated activities throughout the day
  • follow a daily routine and ensure sleeping and eating patterns are adjusted to suit school days
  • practice sequencing activities together, e.g. setting the table, following recipes
  • play memory games that encourage your child to memorise words, numbers or visuals.

Gross and Fine Motor Skills

At Prep, your child will participate in a large number of activities involving hand-eye and foot-eye coordination. Developing these skills will allow your child to feel more willing and confident when participating in these activities. Practice gross motor skills, such as running, jumping, climbing and kicking, and fine motor skills, such as cutting, drawing and colouring. 

Tips for developing skills:

  • do crafts at home that include cutting and pasting various materials
  • play with play dough to increase hand strength 
  • colour small shapes to encourage pencil control
  • practice physical activities, such as swimming, hop scotch, swinging, throwing and catching.

Give your child a head start in Prep by strengthening their soft skills at home. The development of these skills is crucial for growth and will allow teachers in Prep and beyond to further develop your child’s skill set. Building the foundation for your child’s learning experience will give them the best chance of success for Prep and their future years of schooling. 

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