We can support our children to be ready for school by regularly doing activities that help them practise skills required for classroom learning. Two aspects of school readiness are literacy and numeracy.
Literacy includes much more than knowing the letters of the alphabet. In the year before school, children should be able to:
- Listen to and understand others
- Speak clearly
- Ask lots of questions
- Understand stories
- Make sentences using 6 or more words
- Communicate their needs
- Identify some letters and sounds
Activities to develop literacy skills
- Have conversations with your child: ask them questions and listen to what they have to say.
- Read together: children will be taught to read at school but reading with you will help them to develop early literacy skills and develop a love for reading. It’s also a lovely way to bond with your child and create special memories.
- Sing songs: songs help children practise how to listen, follow instructions, learn new words, and use their speech sounds.
Remember that repetition is key! You might get bored after a couple of turns reading the same book over and over, but this is how your child learns to associate sounds with concepts and images. If you want to mix things up, try reading the same book but in a funny voice or pointing out different parts of the picture. You could even leave off the last word in a favourite book or familiar song and encourage your child to fill-in-the-blanks.
As well as counting, numeracy includes noticing shapes, patterns, size, telling the time and measuring. In the year before school, children should be able to:
- Count to 5
- Be working towards counting higher (counting to 10 and numbers larger than 10)
- Sort objects into categories e.g. shapes or big and small
Activities to develop numeracy skills
- Add counting to everyday routines such as eating at the table. You can count the number of people sitting at the table, the number of plates, spoons and cups, or the number of food items on your plate. Start with a small number and if your child is comfortable, try counting further. Make sure not to overwhelm them with too many new numbers all at once.
- Sing songs that count to 10. Our favourite is ‘1,2,3,4,5 Once I Caught a Fish Alive’. Another great song is ‘10 Fat Sausages’. This song is perfect for developing basic maths skills as it teaches children to count backwards from 10 by subtracting the number 2.
- Ask your child to help you measure ingredients when you are cooking.
Remember that your attitude to maths is critical for how your child engages with learning new numeracy skills. Lots of parents do not feel confident in their own skills but that’s okay; being interested and modelling to your child that you’re trying to learn too is more important than having the right answer every time.
Blog Post by Tina Read (Clinical Specialist) and Jess Higgins (Manager) – Sing & Grow Australia