When children start nursery, parents often wonder how they can help their children learn through play at home to prepare them for starting school.
There are lots of fun things you can do at home. Here are some expert tips from Suprima Pillai, a mother of one and teacher at Key Rowe Sure Start Children's Centre in London.
1. Not everything has to be 'academic'
Often parents don't realise that children must experience 'playing' before they start 'learning' in the traditional sense. Playing with modelling dough is a good example of this. Squeezing and rolling the dough is a fun game you can play together that will also aid the development of your child's hands and will prove beneficial when they begin to learn how to write holding a pencil.2. Learn from the world around you
Activities at home don't have to cost money as there's so much you can learn from everyday items. For example, when you're cooking count the eggs as they go into your cake mixture, at bedtime count the bubbles in the bath, or in the supermarket see if your child can recognise the letters on food packaging. Basic letter and number recognition are important skills and will make learning to read and write less daunting for your child when they start school.
3. Make it personal
Children are more likely to remember and be interested in things when it's personal to them. For example, my daughter's name is Janaki and when she was younger we used to see how many letter 'J's she could spot in the newspaper or in her favourite books. She loved this game and it was an effective way to introduce her to recognising letters and words.
4. Have fun together
The simplest things can be great fun and beneficial to your child's development. Try these activities – fill a tray with salt and draw shapes with your fingers or put water in an empty shampoo bottle and use it to squirt shapes onto the tarmac outside in the summer. Enjoy spending precious time together and watch your child continue to learn and develop.
To discover more about Sure Start Children's Centres visit www.direct.gov.uk/surestart or call 0800 2 346 346.