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12 skills every child needs when starting school

Being independent and self-sufficient is key to your child's success and happiness at school. Here's how to brush up on the vital skills he needs

Posted: 30 August 2012
by Jennifer Beckles

1. Dress and undress
If she finds it hard to do up her shoes, buy slip-ons with Velcro fastenings. If buttons are a problem, but trousers or skirts with elastic waists and coats with simple fasteners.

2. Go to the toilet unsupervised
Get into a toilet routine, e.g wipe, flush, wash hands. Don’t forget to praise your child each time she remembers the routine.

3. Wash and dry face and hands
Create a little story about what happens when she does this – the superhero properties in the water that will rid her of the villains… She will catch on quickly.

4. Use a knife and fork
Some children find it hard to master the art of eating with cutlery, so let her practice as much as possible. Give her her own cutlery set with her favourite design or character. Have family mealtimes together so that your child can see how you use cutlery and help her to master it.

5. Tidy up
Have fun tidying up by singing This Is The Way We Tidy Up to the tune of The Wheels On The Bus. Give a five minute warning before tidy up time, then join her for a singing tidy-up session.

6. Use a handkerchief or tissue
Tell her to hold her nose with a tissue over it, which most children do easily. Then blow, wipe and put in the bin.

7. Mix with other children of the same age
Invite a few friends with children over; visit a playgroup; discover her interest and enrol her in a club or class for the summer – an art club, children’s yoga, football or any activity that she enjoys.

8. Carry out simple instructions
Play Simon Says. Give your child one simple enjoyable instruction each day – praise her when she has completed it.

9. Take an interest in picture books
Find a picture book related to her interests or a recent experience and share it together. Visit a storytelling session at the library. Listen carefully to her comments and respond.

10. Take turns and share
Talk about the importance of sharing and ask her how she would feel if, for example, a child had a really long turn on a bike that she wanted to go on. Point out that this is how other children feel if things are not shared. Reward her each time she shares.

11. Boost her concentration span
Sit down with her while she is involved in an activity and try to encourage her to focus on one thing for a sustained period of time.

12. Understand the rules of conversation
Do a puppet show to encourage listening and speaking skills. Sounds Lotto games are excellent for this. Make a point of telling her when you are listening and when you are speaking to reinforce the ideas. 

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