My eldest son went to a Montessori preschool and had a fabulous teacher who not only taught my son, but also took the time to teach me (and other parents) ways that we could help prepare our children for school at home. It wasn’t about drilling them with flash cards or teaching them how to write, but it was about letting children do things for themselves and to increase their independence by letting them use real household items.
This was something that I have taken with me and tried to do as much as possible with all my children. It has been invaluable for helping them with the social and practical skills that children need when at school. There are many simple ways that you can allow your child to develop their abilities:
Let them practice using scissors a lot. This a great way to strengthen their finger muscles and help with fine motor control. It is also a skill that they will need for school.
I have chatted with a number of junior primary school teachers over the last couple of years, who have noted a decline in the ability for kids in prep to cut basic shapes and straight lines. It is worthwhile checking that your child can use scissors safely at home and assuming they are learning these skills elsewhere.
For ideas on what to do see this post – Fine Motor Skills Activities – Cutting and Pasting.
As preschoolers my kids would often love to just sharpen pencils as an activity in itself. It takes time to master this skill as it requires concentration and significant fine motor control for him to sharpen a pencil.
Helping in the kitchen is a great way to for preschoolers to work on their fine motor skills. Grating cheese, pouring, juicing oranges and cutting food are all fun activities that a preschooler will enjoy and that they are capable of doing by themselves.
Using Real Glasses
Let them use real glasses, crockery and utensils. Appropriate sizes of course! Now like most families we have plastic cups that we use on occasion, but the majority of the time the kids use “real” household items. By no means am I handing over the Swarovski Crystal, but using real glasses that will break is an important way to teach children to be careful and safe with items. If they only have the opportunity to use plastic and realise that if they drop it on the ground nothing happens, there is no reinforcing messages to the child about taking care of the items.
In an era where there is such a strong focus on safety, it can be easy to forget that preschoolers can safely use many regular household items adequately supervised. Giving your kids the opportunity to do things for themselves with the real tools, is a fantastic way to help them become independent and get them ready for school.