It’s a popular pastime among many mums to boast about the astonishing IQ of their offspring: they can count to 100, they can name every country on the map and they can even write their full name and address. It’s every parent’s right to be proud but, as a result, others may start to question whether they’ve done their own child a disservice by not having instilled such a vast amount of knowledge in their 4 year old. They may even feel that they’ve ‘wasted’ too much time on play, fun and games and neglected the academic needs of their little one.
The truth is, ask any reception teacher and they will tell you, it doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t matter if they haven’t learnt how to hold a pencil. It’s not important if their alphabet’s hazy (or non-existent). It isn’t even a problem if they can’t count to 10 yet.
What the teacher would really love to see is a child that’s able to listen, be patient and ask for help if necessary. A child that can play with others, share, take turns and understand that others have feelings too. These children are usually happier in the classroom and easier to teach. Simple things like going to the toilet without any help, peeling their own banana at lunchtime and speaking clearly will do lots for your child’s confidence and will be a great help to their teacher too.
Now I’m not saying that you shouldn’t sing a rainbow, try to teach them to count or work on the alphabet together, not at all. What I’m saying is that it shouldn’t worry you if it hasn’t sunk in. If you engage with your child they will have social skills. If you read to your child, they will have an attention span of some kind and will be ready to listen at school. If you sing educational songs with them daily, they will learn without even trying.
As a matter that is close to my heart at the moment (my tiny nephew has just turned 4 and marched off with his lunchbox just a few weeks ago), transition from pre-school to reception can be very daunting for the adults involved. By arming your child with confidence and the ability to listen, you are doing far more to prepare them for ‘big school’ than by teaching them a few bits of knowledge – this can be left to the lovely, smiley teacher who is going to appreciate your little listener and be very grateful that you’ve prepared them so well. Don’t feel guilty… they’re ready for this new adventure (even if you’re not!)