We’re only just back from school hols, but for parents of Pre-Preps, it’s already time to start thinking about the new school year. Transitioning from Pre-Prep to primary school is a big step – how can you tell when your child is ready? And how can you aid their transition? Debbie Evans of Therapies for Kids shares her top tips.
Founder and Clinical Director of children’s therapy service, Therapies for Kids, Debbie says kids should be able to handle these five key areas of development before they hit the school ground:
“Children ready for school should have the ability to follow two step instructions and stay focused on tasks in order to successfully execute and complete them. To help them develop these skills, set clear rules at the beginning of a game or task, with the child helping set the rules,” says Debbie.
“Use simple one step instructions initially, building up to more complex and multiple step instructions. Breaking down the task into simpler steps or showing the end product is helpful too.”
“Kids should understand the concepts of colours, shapes and numbers and be able to recognise letters. They should also have the motivation and interest in learning and looking at books. To assist them with establishing these concepts, spend time looking at books together, pointing out different colours, shapes and letters. Start with questions such as ‘Can you find something that looks like the same colour as this?’ then change it to ‘What is this colour?’”. Debbie suggests games such as I Spy and a colour/shape hunt around the house can add real-life perspective and fun.
3. Self-care tasks
It’s chilly in the morning – you put a jumper on your child. But as it warms up in the day, can they actually take it off themselves or will they swelter? Or does that tempting lunch you spent hours crafting into fun shapes remain uneaten because your Preppie can’t open the Tupperware?
Debbie says, “Before transitioning to primary school, kids should be able to take off a jacket or jumper, do up buttons and zips as well as open containers and bags to get lunch. Dress up play and tea party play are effective and fun ways to engage with kids. It’s also handy to give your child many opportunities to open and close containers in everyday tasks e.g. opening a packet of food, juice box, zip lock bags, and lunch boxes.”
4. Fine motor skills
“Children should be using a dominant hand to hold a pencil and/or a pair of scissors, using a dynamic pencil grasp, be able to cut along a line, copy different line strokes and form letters of their name. Your child will progress with improved accuracy and speed with fine motor tasks, particularly handwriting when concentrating on one hand, which is essential for school. Other activities to assist with developing strength and dexterity in hands and fingers include craft, tong or peg play, paper tearing and crumpling exercises, drawing patterns or shapes in shaving cream, rice or sand and food preparation e.g. mixing cake batter, rolling biscuit dough, decorating cupcakes and tearing lettuce for salads.”
5. Social skills
If your Little Einstein can master all of the above but hides in the corner or experiences fits of rage when it’s not their turn, devote a little attention to their social skills to ease the transition to school.
Debbie suggests, “The range of social skills that children should have include interacting with peers, taking turns and sharing with others. Activities such as play dates, ‘Simon Says’, balloon volleyball, tea parties, relay obstacle courses, team rescue missions and playing games in small groups are great ways to assist with developing these skills.”
Start practicing now, and by next year, your Pre-Preppie will be ready to rule the school!