There is no doubt that the pandemic has caused delays in some areas of under 5 year-old’s development. But even before the pandemic hit, there was a rise in children not adequately prepared to start school. This has largely been caused by parents not encouraging their children to be independent.
Learning to be independent, not only teaches children vital life skills, but also gives them a sense of pride and helps to keep self-esteem high, which, in turn, leads to them becoming more confident and resilient.
September may seem a while away, but in terms of your pre-schooler being ready to start school, now is a good time to ensure they start well equipped. It may make life easier for you if you dress your child, put on their shoes for them or feed them. However, by doing all these things, you are not helping them. At school, they need to be able to do all these things by themselves.
Something I see a lot of in my consultations at the moment, are children who are not yet toilet trained or who still struggle to use the toilet independently
Use these next few months to really encourage your pre-schoolers to try and do tasks without your help and a week or so before school starts, get them to practice putting on their uniform. When you’re buying uniform, buy clothes your child can manage. So, if they struggle with buttons, keep them to a minimum until they are more capable, and help them learn their left from right by putting a sticker in their shoes.
Something I see a lot of in my consultations at the moment, are children who are not yet toilet trained or who still struggle to use the toilet independently. Often, this tends to be down to a lack of independence in other areas so, once those things are addressed, it shouldn’t take much to get your child using the toilet by themselves.
Letting your child have choices is also helpful, but keep the choices controlled. This means offering them a choice between two or three options you’re happy with them choosing. For example, getting them involved in meal planning, you can offer them a choice between two different meals – or when getting dressed, you can give them a choice between two outfits. This is a really good way of your child feeling like they have some control and independence but is still well within your boundaries. It’s a great way to stop meltdowns, too.
At school, your child will be given responsibilities, including being responsible for their own belongings. Doing the same at home is good preparation. Fetching their own clothes, bag or shoes, tidying their toys away, making their bed or setting and clearing the table at mealtimes are all great ideas.
Use of a reward chart can help if they’re not so compliant but, often just having your praise is enough. Praise and encouragement can make all the difference to a child’s self-esteem, so it is important that, no matter how small, their efforts are recognised and praise is given.