Almost unbelievably to me, this time next year Big D will be graduating from nursery and preparing to go to school. I’m struggling to come to terms with the fact that this amazing little creature has gone from being a bouncing baby to a delightful little girl in a blink of an eye, and I know that the next year will also fly by and I’ll be stood at the school gates sobbing like a baby with an emotional mix of pride, love and that slightly sentimental tinge that a wonderful chapter is over.
As a parent, it’s my duty to help prepare Big D for this huge change in any way I can. I recently attended a lecture at Big D’s nursery where the message was clearly given that we owe it to our little ones to try to equip them with the tools for them to make this transition with ease.
I have a strong sense that the formative years of education really do count and I want Big D to love school from the outset. While she’s at this age, she’s so eager and hungry to learn and I don’t want her amazing spirit broken by a lack of confidence or fear of failure.
While in the lecture I noted down 10 key points that I wanted to share with you.
- Try to encourage your child to meet and greet people with confidence, and to make eye contact. Big D can sometimes duck behind my knees and I try to coax her out with distraction – rather that making the excuse that she’s “shy” (hate that word BTW). Try to imagine things through their eyes. Godfather Ali is over six foot tall and must seem like a giant – it’s no wonder she takes a few moments to warm up to him, so try to encourage people to come down to their level.
- Manners maketh man. Try to consistently instil politeness and good manners – they really do go a long way even at such a young age, and there’s a discipline in them too, which is valuable.
- Encourage them to do puzzles. Use a variety of different types of puzzles and try to get them to be independent. We got the heads up on this as a learning tool a while ago and Big D really loves puzzles – and is really beginning to stretch herself with them – the bigger the better!
- Engage your child in conversation. Allow them to take the lead. Ask open questions.
- Test their memory. We love to play shops and I often get Big D to tell me what’s in my shopping bag once I’ve bought and hidden the items. Try to always make learning fun. As Mary Poppins once sung – “You find the fun and… Snap! The job’s a game.”
- Finish one activity before moving on to the next. Easier said than done, but a level of focus should be encouraged. This is a total drag for Big D at the moment – she’s starting to get there but it’s definitely a work in progress for this busy bee.
- Get Jolly with Phonics. This is such an amazing learning tool for them. If you can, go out and buy the Jolly Phonics book, CD or phonic app games.
- Encourage them to tell stories through their art. Let them draw/paint something and ask them to tell you what it is. A few lines squiggled on a page may look unremarkable to us, but to them it could be a dinosaur getting out of a car while eating a slice of chocolate cake.
- Help them to grow their self-esteem. Organise play dates with a wide variety of children, sometimes outside of the home, to improve their social skills and get them out of their comfort zone.
- Plenty of Praise. At every possible opportunity, provide positive reinforcement for their achievements – learning to pull up a zip, going to the loo independently, being kind to their sibling if they have one. Whatever it is, let them know how amazing they’re doing and how proud you are. Big D gets a lot of this and I think it has really helped her grow into a really confident little girl.
Ultimately, all children are so different and develop at their own rate. Their development is as much about having fun and being allowed to be a child fascinated and in awe of the world as it is learning to count, add up and read. If they have the confidence in themselves and their abilities, the learning will follow naturally.
Love Mummy B