Your child has started school and though they’ll be learning about themselves and the world around them in class, you still have a key role in helping them develop the skills they need to prosper physically, mentally and socially. How do you know what you can do? How can you work effectively with the school? Most importantly, how do you know if they are doing well or not?
Gross Motor Skills and Physical Health
Physically, your child will be showing more confidence than they did just a year ago, playing tag, scaling climbing frames and kicking balls. They will have better balance and be more confident tackling different types of play equipment. Baseball will become more fun as they are better at throwing, catching and hitting balls. Active play is important in developing their motor skills and will help with their physical fitness and cardiovascular health, give them muscle tone and strengthen their bones. They’ll also eat and sleep better.
Fine Motor Skills
Getting dressed in the morning will be easier as they masters previously tricky buttons and zippers. The subjects of their artwork will become more recognizable as they get better at using a pencil or scissors and they’ll be able to tackle more complex puzzles. Any activities that gives them the opportunity to hone these skills are useful; art materials, construction toys and board games are particularly effective.
Your child will understand more about games having rules, but they’ll need an adult to explain them and play umpire. Winning will be fun but losing will be terrible, since they won’t have learned the concept of grace in victory and defeat. Don’t feel you have to supervise them constantly; your child needs to develop and practice skills in communicating, negotiating and dealing with conflict with their peers and you just need to be ready to step in if things get out of hand. Don’t underestimate the importance of letting your child play alone occasionally as this helps with independent thinking.
Their literacy and numeracy skills will be improving as your child starts to grasp ideas like size, weight and volume by tackling simple problems. He or she will be learning to read but now they will start to recognize not only what familiar words look like on the page but how stories are structured. Your child still wants to read with you, just be prepared for him or her taking a more active role by pointing out words they know or asking questions. Any activities that give them the opportunity to use creativity and imagination are good since they help your child develop the cognitive skills they will need to solve problems and understand new concepts.
Working with Their Teachers
It’s likely the way they teach reading, writing and arithmetic has changed since you went to school. Liaising with your child’s teacher will make sure the help you’re giving your child is not working against their efforts and prevent them from getting more confused or frustrated as they struggle with the already steep learning curve they’re facing.
Supporting a five-year-old is different to helping a two- or three-year old navigate their way through life, but your efforts are more important than ever in helping your child become a happy and well-adjusted adult.