He's still such a baby

Some parents worry that their child isn't ready to start school because, for example, he can barely read picture books. Or he still needs help with so many things, like changing into his clothes. Here's how you can help prepare him.

1. ENCOURAGE A POSITIVE ATTITUDE

Talk enthusiastically about primary school with him. Mention specific features about it, which you know he'll like, and tell him how you enjoyed school. Never use it as a threat, or suggest that the teachers there are very strict.

2. DEVELOP HIS SELF-CONFIDENCE

Reassure your child that he's competent enough to cope with all the activities there. Point out his strengths and don't let him focus on his weaknesses.

3. BOOST HIS BASIC EDUCATIONAL SKILLS

Let him have a taste of what it'll be like in a classroom. Given him some educational activities that you know he can complete on his own (for example, matching colours). Sit him at a table while he tackles these challenges, so that he gets used to working at a desk.

4. IMPROVE HIS LISTENING SKILLS

Suggest that he look directly at you when you ask him a question or give him instructions. Making eye contact results in more accurate listening. Play listening games with him (for instance, clap out a simple rhythm and him to copy it).

5. FOSTER HIS INQUISITIVENESS

Always treat his question seriously and answer them in a way that he understands. Explain to your child that, at school, he'll have to wait his turn to ask a question. Once you have given him a satisfactory answer, ask him to explain it to you.

6. INCREASE HIS RESPECT FOR OTHERS

Let your child know that what he does affects those around him, and praise him when he acts kindly towards others.

7. STRENGTHEN HIS SELF-HELP SKILLS

Encourage him to use the toilet on his own, to dress himself and to wash his hands. Make sure he knows how to sit comfortably at a table and that he can use cutlery properly.

8. HELP HIM TO CONTROL AGGRESSION

Have structured discipline at home, so that you're neither too strict nor too permissive. If he's temperamental, gently calm him and ask him to tell you what's troubling him. Explain the practical effect of his aggression (for instance, his classmates will avoid him).

9. TEACH HIM TO COOPERATE

Most learning at school take place in groups, so he'll need to be able to collaborate with his peers. Practise this at home. Join your child in activities that you can work on together, like finishing a jigsaw, which shows him how to work with others.

10. TAKE HIM ON A VISIT BEFORE HE STARTS

The more familiar he is with the building, the teachers and his classmates before he joins the class, the better. You can arrange this a month or two before he starts. This will ease any anxieties he might have, and he'll perhaps start to look forward to going to school.

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