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Parenting & Education

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What can I do to help my children to learn before they go to school?

Talking and listening

Talk to your children and encourage them to talk. This will help them learn to express their own ideas, and do so clearly, in a way that teachers will understand. Listen to them and what they have to say. Doing so will tell you more about their interests and the way they think, which you can in turn use to help them further.

Talking to them about what happens in television programmes you watch with them will provide an easy focus for talking. Take your children for walks out in parks and other suitable places, and talk about different things you see while out in the world. Name flowers, trees and other items that pique their interest.

Stories, reading and books

Read and tell your children stories, recite nursery rhymes and poems, and encourage them to talk about what they hear. Making up your own stories can become a very engaging way to introduce them to storytelling, and it gives you control over how your child's interests are used in the story, and how their questions are answered. Encourage them to tell stories and to repeat rhymes and poems.

Make sure there are books at home (picture books, picture books with captions, simple story books, etc.), and encourage children to handle them, look through them and talk about them

Play and activities

Encourage children in make-believe play and play with them, specifically games that involve physical activity with your children. Let them play with water, sand and other materials they show interest in so long as they are not dangerous, of course. Involve them in activities around the kitchen, and encourage them to talk about the activities.

Singing to and with your kids, and encouraging them to sing along with you will help build their confidence and provides a fun and engaging activity. Play singing games with them, using music and musical instruments if possible. Try to get them to clap and dance to the rhythms, and talk to them about the music. Art can also be a great activity, and actively promotes creativity and decision making. Encourage them to draw pictures and to talk about them, and display their drawings and pictures in the home

Source: Your Child’s Learning – Guidelines for Parents – Published by the Department of Education 1999.