Well we have hit two months of Distance Learning now and I hope it is working for you all. It is really important to remember that the learning in school is so much more than workbooks and written tasks and some activities you do at home may have more value than any textbooks.
My own niece is due to being Primary School in September and having finished in pre-school in March I wanted to help my sister in preparing for the transition at home. I know the importance of fine motor, social skills, independent skills and gross motor skills will top any workbooks or handwriting activities in this preparation.
Fine motor develops in children over time and there are so many opportunities for fine motor at home. Make your own home made play dough and ask your child to roll it into a sausage shape with their fingers, use the side of their hands like a knife to cut it into smaller pieces before you begin the whole process again.
If you have your own concerns you could get some playdoh such as Flubbadoh which is harder to manipulate and will strengthen their little fingers. It is very similar but not as strong as the theraputty that can be used. (I used theraputty when I injured my hand a few years ago and it can often be quite a sensory activity too.) I got the Flubbadoh from The Learning Store in Cork (#gifted). For more sensory and fine motor play I love the Smooshy Sand also from The Learning Store in Cork. As it is a magnetic sand it provides hours of fun with baking trays to create and mould shapes. It is very sensory too letting the sand run through your fingers. So I am not sure who will benefit from it more, myself at the moment or my niece when I see her.
You could also use pasta and wool to string together to make chains and bracelets. Penne pasta is great for this activity and it is something you might have readily at home. You could get pompoms in Dealz or Mr Price if they are near you and get your child to move them using only their thumb and pointer finger. If you have tweezers at home you could use them also, however they might be too small for your child to use.
Fine motor is so important at this stage, much more so than colouring between the lines or writing letters and numbers.
Gross Motor Skills
As the lovely weather continues make sure to let your child play outside, running, jumping, skipping, throwing are all the fundamental movement skills each child needs and now is the time to build on these skills before primary school. Climbing up and down the slide unaided, draw on the ground with playground chalk (if you can find it) and teach your child to jump or play hopscotch. There is endless opportunities to develop your child’s fundamental movement skills. If you want more information on Fundamental Movement Skills and ideas for you at home. Check out this pack from PDST.
As children have missed out on months of their pre-school time it is important to remember the independent skills they would have had when at playschool. Putting on coats themselves, taking out their own lunchbox etc so it is important to try reinforce these skills at home too. Asking your child to do simple chores at home and follow it through to make sure they can do it. Let them get dressed themselves, putting on their own shoes etc is a great step to independence for primary school. It is little changes for you at home and they can have a huge impact on the child in Junior Infants.
Creative, sensory and messy play.
As we have the amazing weather, maybe it’s time to bring out the paddling pool, the sand box or water table. You don’t need fancy water tables at home even a basin of water would suffice. Pouring water from one container to another way to develop gross and fine motor skills. It will also help to identify your child’s dominant hand. Adding washing up liquid to create bubbles will allow for some sensory play too. If your child has a tea set or toy cars let them wash them in the basin/water table outdoors. If you are brave you could make slime or use shaving foam for another sensory play experience.
There are so many ideas and activities for home which do not involve sitting at a table or using text books and they will help your child prepare for primary school. These are some of the ideas I have shared with my sister and it’s important to know they are probably things you have been doing all along so don’t worry about books and writing, they will be writing long enough as they get older. Let’s start with the fundamental skills first.
If you have any questions on this post, please send me a DM.