LM is turning 4 soon. He still has a while until he starts kindergarten, but lately I've been curious as to what a 4 year old should be able to do and know in preparation for starting school.
So, in the Google search bar, I quickly typed in the words, "what should a 4 year old know"
The very first thing to pop up was this article from magicalchildhood.com, titled the exact same words as my query: What should a 4 year old know? written by Alicia Bayer. She also reposted it here on her website. (It's a really good article. Check it out!)
After I read what she wrote, I had a completely fresh perspective on my role as a mother / teacher for my children. For a Pre-school aged child (3-5) it's NOT about how high they can count, how many words they can write, or if they know how to say hello in every language. As stated in the article above, a young child should know first and foremost that they are loved unconditionally, are safe, that childhood is magical, and that they are wonderful. Everything else will come in due time.
So, what can / should I be doing with my Preschooler? Here are some practical ideas, and ones that I plan on implementing into our days, weeks, and months as LM prepares to enter school. (A few of these ideas come from these links: What Else Should I be Doing? and School Readiness)
- Nothing compares to reading with your child. It's easy, it's affordable, it's fun and the benefits are plentiful.
- Character Building
- One of those articles suggested that the preschool years are the most influential for character building. So be sure to take those moments to teach your child how to be kind, polite, honest, respectful, etc.
- Experience New Things
- I love this list from this article above: "Sing and dance together. Hold kittens. Plant radishes (they sprout fast). Make goop from cornstarch and water. Play in the sprinkler. Go to a duck pond. Dress up. Roll down a hill. Watch an anthill. Touch things, feel things, experience new things."
- Don't get caught in the trap (like I have) of thinking that our children have to be entertained and scheduled all day long. If you feel guilty for not entertaining them all day, or if you use other means to entertain them all day (tv, video games, busy schedule etc.) take a breath and remember what if felt like to be a child and just PLAY all day long. Children can entertain themselves. And that is an important skill to have.
- Encourage Independence
- Since children are so eager to help, and since in the long run we want them to be independent and happy adults,......now is a perfect time to teach them how to do age-appropriate chores and tasks themselves. Things might not get done as quickly, but you will teach your child that they are responsible and capable.
- Make learning FUN!
- Whenever and whatever activities or crafts you do, follow your child’s curiosity and find ways to make learning & developing FUN and not forced.
- Promote Physical Activity
- It's no doubt that pre-schoolers are blessed with a never ending amount of energy. Providing them with opportunities to be physically active during the day not only allows them a perfect outlet for all this energy, it also keeps them healthy!
Many moms think that in order to be ready for school their child should know ABCs and 123s. But teachers say that what they really need is (from School Readiness):
- · listening skills
- · a good attention span
- · fine motor skills
All of which can be achieved through a good combination of the things listed above. Even if all you did was read regularly to your child, you'd help them develop the first 2 naturally and with very little effort. But preparing them for school is not the only reason for doing the things you do.
For me, gaining these insights has changed my perspective on teaching my children. I will continue to do learning activities and crafts, but my hope is to focus more on the process of growth and discovery, more on reading and exploring, more on play and having fun, and definitely more on physical activity. And if you needed this reminder too, I hope that this post will help you and your child to enjoy the wonders of childhood to its fullest.