Preparing Your Child for Starting School

Is your child starting school next year?

Learning to read is generally introduced in the first year of school, and it will help if your child is developmentally ready.

Rather than simply reaching a certain age, your child’s reading readiness is also linked to their physical and emotional development. Signs that your child is ready for learning to read in a classroom, include being able to:

  • Sit still for a length of time, keeping their body in an upright position, both feet on the floor
  • Focus and pay attention.
  • Recognise symbols for letters and numbers.
  • Bring their eyes together to focus on a single point
  • Move their eyes together smoothly to follow a moving target
  • Emotionally self-regulate
  • Connect socially
  • Listen and process spoken instructions
  • Balance while sitting still

All of these skills can be developed in your child’s early years, helping them to have the best possible preparation for learning to read.

Early sensory-motor development and integration will not come from flash cards or video games, but from lots of physical activities and healthy social connections. Playing video games or watching television can actually interfere with your child’s healthy early development.

Not only can these activities can keep your child’s nervous system in a state of heightened stress, they may also take time away from other, more  useful activities. 

For the last 15 years I have been helping children who struggle in the classroom, “filling in the gaps” in their early development. Rather than wait until they are struggling, and falling behind their peers, here are some suggestions to help prepare your child for this big new adventure. 

Prepare Your Child for Learning to Read

You can help prepare your child for learning to read by playing together, and having fun. Sounds too easy, doesn’t it? Children do these things naturally, and will love having you join them. Here are some ideas for you to try:

Activities to Support Sensory Development

  • Describe what you can see
  • Close your  eyes and touch different textures
  • Use words to describe how you feel
  • Try different taste sensations
  •  Notice different smells
  • Observe different sounds

Activities to Support Physical Development:

  • Early floor play and tummy time
  • Walking along a balance beam
  • Skipping
  • Hopping
  • Rolling down hills, playing catch with a ball
  • Clapping games
  • Rhythm and rhyme
  • Climbing in nature

Activities to Develop Fine Motor Skills:

  • Cutting with scissors
  • Digging in the garden
  • Painting
  • Beading
  • Drawing
  • String games
  • Finger knitting

Children who Struggle with Learning to Read

Children who struggle with learning often to read are often described as being dyslexic. An assessment will generally identify gaps in early  sensory-motor development, such as:

  • A poorly developed sense of the space around them
  • Trouble moving their eyes together to follow a moving target
  • Trouble maintaining balance when sitting or standing still
  • Poor awareness of left and right sides of their body
  • Difficulty sitting still in a chair, sitting upright with their feet on the ground
  • Poor muscle tone and slumped posture 
  • Awkward pencil grip
  • Difficulty listening, or processing sound
  • Poor memory
  • Become easily stressed, quickly going into a flight/fight response 

We Learn Through our Senses

We take in information through our sense organs – our eyes, ears, nose, mouth and touch, which is supported by our physical development. This information then goes to the brain to be processed, helping us to make sense of the world. 

Seen this way,  your child’s readiness for learning to read is a matter of body awareness as much as reaching a certain age. Good preparation will reap long term rewards as your child progresses throughout their life.

The Next Step

The next step is to book in for an initial parent consultation. We have have a chat about your concerns, and I will suggest strategies for helping your child to get the best start. The aim is to help you to prepare them for lifelong learning.

It’s never too late to help your child, but is is much easier when they are younger, before secondary issues such as poor self esteem, anxiety, anger and frustration start to creep in.

My aim is to help you to raise happy, healthy children who are able to achieve to their potential to live meaningful lives, and find their place in the world

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About Rosalind

Since 2005 I have been helping children with learning and behavioural challenges such as autism, dyslexia, ADHD and other sensory processing difficulties. I use an holistic, or whole child approach combining counselling with a development movement program, known as The Extra Lesson. This program addresses underlying immaturities in early development that are contributing to their learning and behavioural challenges. Sessions are available online and at Moruya South Head.

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