So your baby's starting school September...

All Woman

THE years slip by quickly, and often, before you know it, your little love who once fit perfectly in your arms is now ready to enter the formal education system. As they get them ready for the big day, many parents often focus on imparting academic-related lessons like teaching them letters of the alphabet and numbers. And while these are crucial for academic development, other important lessons that are necessary for the child to function in this new environment are often neglected, leaving children at a disadvantage.

Is your child about to start school? Here is a list of lessons, outside of letters and numbers, that you may want to commit to teaching to ensure that they are really prepared for school.

Their correct names

Pet names are a big part of our Jamaican culture; most of us will admit to having one or a few of these that different people in our homes and communities address us by. However, while pet names have their place, children need to know the name that appears on their birth certificates. Failing to do this can be quite confusing for both the child and the teacher.

Parents' names

Knowing their own names is good, but it is even better if they learn their parents' names, as well as other details like their address and phone number. When you arm children with this kind of information, security personnel can help them reunite with you much faster if they need to. However, you must also teach them that the information is a secret and they should only share it with certain people to prevent it getting into the wrong hands.

Manners

Make sure that you teach your children social graces. Make sure that you use words like “please”, “excuse me”, “thank you”, and “I am sorry” in your household every day. They will be able to transfer it from home to the classroom or wherever they go.

Social skills

Your child will be interacting with and sharing space with many other children. They will, therefore, need to practise, among other things, sharing, playing, using appropriate language, and learning to take turns when playing games or with toys. Learning these skills is usually easier when children have siblings they interact with regularly; however, for children who don't have other children around, play dates will help them to develop these skills.

Stranger danger

Children tend to be gullible; while some naturally will not want to talk to strangers; others, especially if they portray themselves as pleasant and/or come bearing gifts, can make children open up to them. Tell your children that talking to strangers is off limits — they should seek your, or the adult whose care you have entrusted them into — permission before engaging anyone they do not know in conversation.

The body talk

Toddlers are at an age where they are curious about everything, including their bodies. We see them often inspecting their private parts as they try to figure things out about themselves. Make sure that you explain to them what body parts are appropriate to be touched in public and which should not be.

Feelings

Toddlers are notorious for throwing tantrums — it's a way of expressing themselves because they are unsure of how to handle their emotions. It's a difficult time because they don't know how to separate each emotion and how to respond. This will take some time, but make sure that you start before school begins. Teach them that when they get angry they don't need to hit someone — help them to explore other ways of handling conflict.

Road safety

Yes, we agree — toddlers have no business crossing the streets by themselves, but what about parents and caregivers who will do some amount of walking with children? You want to make sure that children don't pull from your hands and do anything risky. When they understand the dangers of the road, the appropriate signals to use, how to determine when it's safe to cross, etc, it reduces the risk of them getting hurt.

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