When I was pregnant I remember people saying to me all the time “Enjoy the journey, it’s going to go so fast!” Being very pregnant and uncomfortable, I was wishing time away so I could meet this little person in my belly. Fast-forward four years and here we are and I totally get what all these wise people really meant. The days have been long, but the years are flying! Flying so fast that my first-born is about to embark on his school journey. I have such mixed feelings about it – excited for him to learn, make new friends and all that good stuff, sad to be having less time with him and a little sad that his formal school years begin so early on.
But here we are! We have been having settling in sessions and talks at nursery about how we can help prepare them and also keep up with their thirst for knowledge and learning. My questions have been mostly about what I can do during the (very) long summer holidays to keep him learning and exploring, but in a fun and engaging way (my son is not a sit still and write type of guy!). I have been given some great ideas, which I thought I would share, as I know there are many other mums wondering the same thing as I am.Writing & Reading
Something was said the other night that I really like and made total sense. It is not about them being able to write perfectly (or even at all really - yet!), little ones need to see the purpose of being able to read and write – see the fun and magic in it. Like writing letters to the fairies, or leaving notes for Dad to find in his bag later or helping Mum write the shopping list and then finding all the bits at the shop. Sitting and writing for practice will be awfully dull, so turn writing into various games! Some ideas:
- Use every day chores to identify letters and words (use the dials on the washing machine, or look at car number plates, help them set the table and count the places).
- Get a pen pal! It can even be grandparents or a local friend (or imaginary friends!). Write and draw letters, and try getting them to send one back (such fun getting snail mail!)
- Get your little one to write your shopping list (yes it will be scribbles, but it is about the purpose)
- Find and read signs and posters when you are out and about. Encourage your little one to identify letters, or to take a guess at what it could be saying (like a “Stop” sign – nothing to complicated!)
- Our busy bags have some fantastic ways to help, “Peg it” and “Something beginning with” focus on letters and phonics (and keep an eye out for some brand new additions coming very soon!)
Fine motor skills
Little hands need to be strengthened, and as the school journey begins it becomes important. There are many ways that you can do this – and they are fun too!
- Playdough is a great one, so many ways to play and learn with it. Make sure you get those little fingers to roll, squeeze - strengthening the muscles. Get your little ones to rolls snakes, make little balls, flatten and then squeeze! You can also do some counting, basic maths and work on colour recognition.
- Grab some tweezers and pompoms! So simple, but they just LOVE picking up the pompoms and they are so proud when they do! Our “Pinch a pompom” bag is one of our most popular bags and loved by a variety of ages. We also have some really fun tweezers – little croc ones, and some little handy ones (which are great add ons).
- Using scissors is another great way to strengthen those little hands. You can grab different coloured paper and kids scissors and let them cut all different shapes and make patterns! You can also use our Bubble Scoop (which to be honest, I love playing with). They work like scissors but have a big scoop on the front, so you can put down pompoms, or buttons and let them scoop them up.
- So many ways to have fun with this. Make pasta necklaces; grab some pipe cleaners and buttons, rice and straws. We also have our “Poke-a-dot” bag for some fun counting and threading.
With this glorious weather (long may it last!) there is so much fun to be had outside.
- Grab some large pieces of paper, big bowls of paint and do some hand and feet painting! Get sticks and leaves and make prints, draw bugs and animals.
- Get some mud and old pots and pans and make mud pies. Use stones and leaves to decorate the creations – get them counting and making some patterns.
- We have been having such fun using water colour tablets. I put a different colour in each bowl and then my little ones mix them, exploring the changes. I have added in some water beads for extra sensory fun.
- Pack a little pencil bag with some pens and paper, and take it on a walk, get your little one to write down what you see, or create a map to leave for the fairies to find.
- Pick flowers and leaves and press them and make some pretty art.
The ideas really are endless but you have to find ones that resonate with your child. If they are into something specific, like cars, dinosaurs or fairies, make sure to bring that theme into what you do. Things like maths, writing and reading can be learnt and it will! We need to show them how fun these things can be, show them purpose.
We have to make sure we keep their spectacular imaginations alive, that childhood magical spark, that curiousness they possess. Keep them inspired to have fun and learn!