AILEEN DOYLE is the Key Stage Leader for Early Years at Shrewsbury International School Hong Kong. She shares how parents can help support young students at home.
#1 Get chatty
Vocabulary is important! Aileen says that successful early years students are those with greater vocabularies. Stay away from baby language and use vocab that is above what you notice your child is naturally speaking. Try using new words and see if your child understands the meaning of these new words – you might be surprised.
When playing or running errands, ask your child questions about what they’re doing and playing. Stop and listen to their responses.
#2 Play, play, play!
Use your child’s interests as a tool to get them learning. Does your little one love dinosaurs? Then count dinosaurs to teach numbers or use dinosaur names to learn letters. If your child loves craft, decorate large number cut-outs for them to get to know numbers. Or, use patterned crafts that require counting to “trick” them into learning to count.
One thing Aileen says to keep in mind: “If a child is happy, they learn best. If a child is forced, they won’t learn”. Learning through play is the best way to get a child’s interest.
#3 Take turns
Learning to take turns is especially relevant to first and only children, and it’s an important social skill for preschoolers. Those without siblings are used to playing with parents or other adults. In this instance, it’s the role of the adult to explain sharing and to role model it with a child.
Conflict resolution is also an important element of learning to share. Aileen says, “There may be situations where children clash without an adult around. When this happens, they need to learn how to work things out themselves.”
#4 Enjoy story time
A love of books is a true gift that every parent can give their child. Take the time to read stories with your child, every day whenever possible. This time together will encourage a love of stories and books.
This doesn’t mean investing a fortune in books – in fact, don’t be afraid to read the same book over and over if your little ones love it! Aileen points out that a regular trip to the library is another great place to start. “Make a big deal of bringing your child to the library once a week and allow them to pick out a book.”
This article first appeared in the June 2020 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.