So your little one will be starting school this autumn? This is an exciting moment in their lives – an important milestone that you will treasure forever. They are starting their learning career, one that will take them on many adventures and teach them many things. When your child starts their first year of school in the autumn, what types of things will they be learning?
Many parents like to know what their children are going to learn in school so that they can supplement that learning at home with other books, games and activities. They also like to know so that they can keep up to date on their child’s progress and understand where they are and what they are learning.
Although there is a little bit of emphasis on reading, writing, letters and numbers in the first year of school, the most important thing is socialisation and playing with other children. Young children learn a lot through play and so the optimal learning environment is being encouraged to play. Of course, this doesn’t mean that your child will be doing nothing but playing all day – the first year at school will also have directed activities that are designed for the child’s level of development which will give them an opportunity to learn new skills. Children learn a lot by watching and copying the people around them.
Since playing is fun children will become very absorbed in it, which helps them to develop the ability to concentrate more. When they are provided with a range of playthings they will be able to learn in many different ways.
It can be a little nerve-wracking to send your child away to their first day of school. They might be a little nervous and perhaps you will be too, but try to keep a calm and positive attitude. Your child can sense your moods and will pick up on apprehension, which will make them more nervous. Instead, stay calm and positive and encourage your child to make new friends and try new things. Let them know that you will see them in a few hours and that you can’t wait to hear them tell you about their first day at school.
What Will Your Child be Learning at School?
There is a lot for your little one to learn and in their first year of school they will encounter many new things. Usually a first year of the school curriculum will include:
- Songs, rhymes and stories that teach listening skills and sound discrimination such as The Wheels on the Bus, Miss Molly had a Dolly, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Five Little Monkeys.
- The school will likely have a sand and water table that teaches children that water is fluid and can be measured in different sized containers.
- Your child will also take part in art activities such as painting, making sculptures with modelling clay and drawing. This will help to develop their imagination and encourage them to express their feelings.
- During their first year of school your child will be learning to recognise and name all 26 uppercase letters, as well as some of the lowercase letters. They will learn to write their own name and perhaps some other important words such as ‘love’, ‘mum’ and ‘dad’
- Your child will also start to learn about numbers. They will start to recognise and identify the numbers from one through 10 and correctly count 10 or more objects.
- Counting and learning numbers are actually separate skills. First the child memorises the order of the numbers and says them out loud when they are “counting” objects. As they develop their learning they will eventually realise that the numbers and objects actually correspond with each other.
- Building blocks, shape sorters and jigsaws are excellent for teaching your child to recognise different sizes and shapes, developing logic and putting things in order.
- Your child will also participate in activities such as running, dancing, climbing and ball games – which help to develop strength, flexibility, body movement and coordination skills.
- They will learn about personal and social development, such as how to play nicely and get along with the other children.
- The activities at school will include singing and playing simple musical instruments, which will help to develop listening, hearing and rhythm.
- Your child will play games with their classmates, which will teach them how to take turns, share and play nicely with others.
- Your child will also take part in dramatic play at school, such as dressing up and playing make believe. This will help them to learn to see life from another viewpoint and try out different situations without them actually happening.
These are just a few of the things that your child will be learning in the first year at school. Of course, every classroom, every school, every child and every teacher is different.
If you want to find out in more detail specifically what your child is learning, you can talk to their teacher. You can even ask for copies of the curriculum and ask your child’s teacher to suggest activities that you should be doing at home in order to supplement their learning. When the parent and the teacher work together to support the child’s learning they can be a powerful team and they can maximise that child’s potential both in the classroom and at home.
Building on Your Child’s Learning at Home
If you want to continue what your child is learning in the classroom at home and create a learning environment there as well, there are many things that you can do. For example, you can have story time every night before bed where you tell your little one a bedtime story. It will start with you reading the book, but as your child starts to learn to read they will be able to take over from you. Eventually they will be reading the bedtime story to you, starting with more simple books and moving on to more complex ones. You can also look at the pictures together. Children’s books have beautiful illustrations and they can spark an interesting discussion.
There are also many great educational toys and games that you can keep in the house that will help with your child’s development. These include finger puppets, puzzles, games, drawing materials and much more. As your child plays with these games they will learn simple skills such as hand eye coordination, basic motor skills, problem solving, rational thinking and other important developmental skills.
Also, make sure that your child always has art supplies handy for when they feel like expressing themselves. A few crayons, markers, pens and paints are wonderful for helping your child to develop their creative expression and learn how to present their ideas visually.
It’s also helpful to simply talk to your child throughout the day about everyday things that you are doing together, such as cooking and cleaning or the things you see as you are driving together. This will give you a chance to explain how things work. Be prepared for a lot of questions – children are endlessly curious!
You can also encourage your child to join you in your everyday tasks. Baking a cake together will teach them about weighing and measuring, working on the garden will teach them about plants and living things.
Your children learn a lot from watching and observing you, so be conscious of how you are acting and what kind of example you are giving them. If they see you get angry and shout at someone who cuts you off in traffic, they will learn that angry outbursts are an acceptable way to react when they are frustrated. It’s difficult to be perfect of course, but try your best to behave with patience, humility, maturity, confidence and kindness in order to set an example for your child to follow.
Remember – all children develop at different speeds, so don’t try to rush your child or get worried if they are not as far along as everyone else. They will develop in their own way and in their own time. The important thing is spending time with your child, reading, talking and playing with them. Spending this important time with them will help them to develop their skills and expand on the learning that they are doing at school – as well as being a meaningful bonding experience between the two of you. The lessons they learn will help them to excel in all areas of life and will instil them with a lifelong love of learning.