During the Covid-19 restrictions, your preschooler is surely enjoying being in their own home and having one or two parents around them 24/7. I bet some of them have asked you not to go back to work! As parents, are doing our best to meet all our commitments like children’s school work, our own work, elderly parents, household upkeep etc but if your pre-schooler is due to start primary school in September, are they ready? What are they missing out on due to non-attendance at preschool?
The role of the preschool teacher is to provide an environment and opportunities for the children to develop a love of learning (some tips on this in a previous blog post HERE). Another role is to facilitate the development of motor skills and independence so that the children are physically able for future learning. In preschool, the children also learn (through play) social skills and emotional intelligence.
How can I help my child with reading skills?
At home there are loads you can do to help your child prepare themselves for the skill of learning to read. A preschool child wouldn’t necessarily learn to read words or sentences, this will be taken care of in junior and senior class in primary school. If the preschool child practices and masters Pre-Reading Skills, they will be well equipped when it comes to learning phonics, sentence structures, spelling etc. These skills include observation, memory, sequencing stories, awareness of print including symbols and their function, an interest in reading and love of books.
There are lots of fun memory games that you can play with your child. In fact, as children naturally love these games, you probably have been playing these already. Keep doing it and continue to make the game a little more challenging as the weeks go on.
One simple game is to ‘remember the missing object’. Leave a number of objects on the kitchen table. Let the child take a look at the objects so they can memorise them. With the child’s eyes closed, remove one object and hide it. The child opens their eyes and guesses what object is missing. Now it’s your turn to guess as the child hides an object. Keep going to sharpen your skills 😉
Sequencing a story
After hearing a story or watching a movie, chat to your child about the characters and the plot of the story. Ask questions to jog their memory like “How did the story begin?”, “What happened next?” “What did this character do then?” and “How did it end?”
On some pieces of paper draw, or ask your child to draw, a scene or a piece of the story (one scene for each piece of paper). Talk with your child about what is happening in each picture and ask them to place the pictures in the order that they come in the story. Your child will learn that every story has a beginning, a middle and an end – a help when they go on to make up their own stories or when making sense of stories that they will read or hear.
An enjoyable and challenging game to sharpen the observation skills is that where your child looks at a busy picture and locates object inside the picture, like the wonderful “Where’s Wally” books. This game can keep you all amused for some time while you challenge your child to take a close look at the busy picture and find a different object each time they look!
Challenge them to focus on detail e.g. The cat with the red hat, The brown bottle.
Your child will learn to slow down and focus, in the hope of avoiding a quick skim of a page where very little info goes in.
Look at the signs!
There are signs and symbols all around us e.g. on the roadside, on maps, logos, on TV, clothes labels, recyclable packaging. Take note of these signs and symbols that you come across every day and tell your child of their meaning. On your way for your essential shopping, notice the STOP signs reminding your child of their colour and shape and pointing out that all stop sign are similar. Looking at two food packages, point out the symbol for recycling is the same on both. This symbol means ‘recycling’ and nothing else.
Your child will learn the concept of print having a specific meaning, a precursor to the concept of letters coming together to make specific sounds and words.
A love of books
During these restrictions is the perfect time to slow down and make space for books, both in your day and in your home. Is there a time of day, when the housework is done(ish) and the air is relatively calm? Why not use this time to find a cosy and quiet spot in your home where you can read to your pre-schooler or they can browse the books themselves.
Whether they enjoy looking at the pictures, hearing you read or retelling the story themselves, make sure that the ambiance is calm and loving. I always found that the best time to read a good book for my kids was at bedtime and I think it may have had something to do with delaying sleep time. But that was all part of the lure!
Why not extend their relationship with the book by asking them re-tell it to another family member or to sketch a scene from the story. A ‘small world’ scene could be set up for the child to re-tell the story too e.g. blocks and Lego people to recreate a part of the story.
All these loving experiences and fun extensions will reinforce the idea that books are a very positive part of our lives.
These are but a few suggestions on how you can help your child’s brain to get in training for reading. Seize opportunities throughout your day to help your preschooler to slow down and focus and, of course, keep reading to them! ❤️️
For tips in helping your child be independent enough for primary school, CLICK HERE