In this post I wrote about some ways to help your child prepare for preschool cognitively, and now I want to focus on the physical skills that young children will benefit from. Each child has completely different strengths, and these skills will come easily to some, while others will just need extra repetition to feel comfortable with it. There have been times as a teacher that I have handed a pair of scissors to a student and assumed that they had been practicing at home because of how well they were cutting, only to find out later that day that it was the first time the child had even used scissors. On the other hand, some children need lots of reminders and demonstrations about how to correctly grasp scissors, and they may not be able to actually begin cutting for a week or two after they have been introduced to scissors. Keep an open mind when helping your child, and you never know when they might just surprise you.
One of the most important aspects to help your child with is proper hand washing. When your child begins preschool, they are exposed to many more germs. In order to help your child and the rest of your family from getting sick, you can teach them these hand washing techniques. Have your child turn on warm water, get a small amount of soap, and begin to lather. Now comes the tricky part. It’s so easy for them to just rinse what they have lathered on their hands. Instead, have them sing a favorite song while lathering outside of the water stream for 20 seconds…feel free to turn the water off during this time to get them accustomed lathering thoroughly. One of my favorite hand washing songs is this (sing to the rhythm of Row, Row, Row your Boat): Wash, wash, wash your hands. Wash them so clean. Scrub the fronts, and scrubs the backs, and scrub them in between. Then repeat a few times. After your child has effectively lathered both hands and wrists, rinse, then dry. If possible, use a paper towel to turn off the water faucet.
Remind your child to wash his hands each time after using the bathroom.
Help your child learn to cough in his elbow.
Teach your child to blow her nose independently and to wash her hands afterward.
When toileting have your child use proper wiping techniques, and teach him to ask for help if he needs it.
Self help skills
Help your child learn to dress himself, including shoes and coat.
Teach your child to clean up toys she is no longer playing with before taking more toys out.
Arrange an area at home where some of your child’s toys, puzzles, books, etc. are accessible for her without an adult’s help, and create a specific and designated “home” (tub/bin/shelf) for each toy.
Fine motor skills
Have your child use a glue stick.
Introduce your child to child safe scissors.
Encourage your child to practice buttoning her clothes and zipping zippers.
Give your child opportunities to use different writing tools such as markers, crayons, paint brushes, pens, and pencils.
Gross Motor Skills
Help your child learn how to put a coat on.
Play catch together and any other fun games that involve coordination skills.
Have obstacle courses that involve running, jumping, and balance activities.