15 things to teach your pre-schooler
Children are sponges for knowledge, absorbing everything you say and do (and often replaying these moments back to you at the most inappropriate times). Your little one is learning each and every day, simply through play, exploration and watching those around him.
To ensure he is prepared for his introduction into school, here are a few skills, lessons and values to incorporate into his regular routine of play.
How to wash his hands
Hand washing seems like a pretty simple concept but children need to be taught how to do it, step by step. How much soap to use. How long to rub their hands together and even how to correctly dispose of the paper towel afterwards. It only takes a few minutes to show him (and hopefully only a few reminders that this needs to be done EVERY time he goes to the toilet).
How to brush his teeth
While you’re in the washroom, you might as well show your little one the correct way to brush his teeth too. He may require assistance for several more years but it’s good to get him started young.
How to wipe her bottom
This includes things like how much toilet paper to use, how to wipe from front to back and how to ensure she isn’t leaving anything behind. Add a package of wipes to the bathroom as they can provide a more full-bottom clean than standard toilet paper.
Red Nose Toddler & Family Wipes are your perfect accomplish for this final toilet training task. They are soft on skin and tough enough to tackle all toileting requirements. Plus, they are fully biodegradable and flushable (max 2 wipes per flush) so your little one can wipe, wash his hands and walk away.
How to feed and dress herself
Two more skills to add to the list are the correct way to eat (how to hold a spoon, how to politely sit at a table, how to chew with her mouth closed) and how to get dressed (buttons, socks, zips, you name it).
Of course, these gross motor skills take time and practice to master. My son is seven and still demands I put on his socks for him every morning because “There are bumps in them.” As we all know, sock bumps trump independence any day.
How to open her water bottle
And her school lunch box containers while you’re at it. Oh, and how to open those squeezy kids’ yoghurts. How to correctly dispose of them in the bin (and not hidden underneath the bed) is also a valuable lesson to learn.
How to ask for help
Being able to ask for help and to speak up is essential, especially for a pre-schooler. This is a tricky one for reserved children but it is another skill that you can practice at home through role play.
How to say please and thank you
Children are never too young to learn their manners. Start with teaching them to say please and thank you and work up to the more complex lessons in politeness.
How to smile and make eye contact when someone is speaking
Smiling seems like a given but many children have trouble smiling and making eye contact when communicating with someone, especially someone they don’t know very well. Don’t force this too much as it can cause them to revert even more. Make a point of mentioning the correct way to address someone and practice through pretend play at home.
How to express what she is feeling
Emotions are hard to comprehend. Learning how to express your emotions is even harder. Helping children to understand the different emotions and how to properly express them is something you will never stop teaching (or learning yourself for that matter).
The importance of being kind, empathic and understanding of others
While he may not be able to fully master gratitude, empathy and acceptance of others, it’s important to at least familiarise your little one with these concepts.
The importance of being patient and gracious
Another two lessons that take years to learn, patience and gratitude aren’t easy for your little one. But the more she sees these qualities projected in real life, the quicker she will start to model them herself.
How to share and play fairly
Playing with other children, sharing toys and taking turns are some of the best ways to teach children the important values above, including kindness, empathy and patience.
How to play independently
However, little ones also need to be able to play alone without relying on you to keep them entertained. Independent play is an excellent imaginative and creative outlet and a powerful tool in shaping leadership skills.
His full name (and address)
Learning addresses can be tricky for little ones. But it can be an important safety precaution, so is worth the extra effort involved.
Her body parts
There is plenty of debate around whether you should teach your young child the correct names of our body parts or stick to the nicknames. It really doesn’t matter as long as the main lesson is being taught – to be body aware and understand that private parts are private. Whether you are calling them penis and vagina or wee wee and hee haw is entirely up to you.
If your pre-schooler hasn’t quite mastered some of these skills, don’t worry. Every child learns and grows at his or her own pace. Sometimes these lessons take a little longer to stick. But by practising these skills with him, incorporating these values into everyday play and encouraging him along the way, you are giving your little one all he needs to succeed during the next chapter of his life – school.