In the second of a series of teachers’ guest blogs, early years teacher Eleanor Pyper shares her five top tips for surviving lockdown with your five year-old.
- If you want to provide a learning structure keep it simple.
- A good breakfast is key. We all perform better when well fed.
- Reading, writing and maths are best tackled in the morning.
- Young children learn best through play and fun.
- Teach your child to be independent.
1. If You Want to Provide a Learning Structure Keep it Simple.
If you want to keep going with reading and writing, get your child to practise in the morning for no longer than 15 minutes.
Check out Mr Thorne Does Phonics on Youtube. Children love his videos and afterwards they can pretend to be Geraldine the Giraffe and look for objects around the house and garden that have specific sounds in them.
Practising writing outside using paint brushes and water is a good tip – and best of all no mess!
Ask your child to act out their favourite story, but do try to listen to your child read for 10 minutes everyday. It’s the best thing you can do to help their education.
If maths is your five year-old’s thing, get them to count cutlery and teddies/superheros or dolls and put them in size order. Get them to add two groups of teddies together, or take some away. Have a teddy bears’ picnic and practise sharing biscuits or sweets between the toys.
You could ask them to pair all their shoes and socks and get them practising counting in twos.
If you have a five year-old who prefers a worksheet and you have access to a printer, sign up for a free “twinkl” account. There are tons of printable worksheets to keep your little one going if they like a number sentence.
2. A Good Breakfast is Key
Well yes make it healthy, but just having it is key. Ask your child to set the table. Can they pour the juice or the milk into the correct cup. Does everyone have the same sized bowl or spoon? If not why not?
Cooking or preparing the table is a brilliant way to help your child with independence, maths and communication. Showing your child how to make jam on toast and then letting them have a go at finding the jam, taking the lid off, using a knife or spoon safely to spread is great fun. Always remember to ask your child to help with the clearing up too. Think life skills and independence.
3. Reading, Writing and Maths Are Best Tackled in the Morning.
Remember your child is five. Little and often is the key here.
If you have a sandpit/tray this is a good place for your child to practise letter formation and writing. If you have leaves or stones in your garden, ask your child to find a certain number, then one more or one less, or count how many altogether and finally put them in size order.
Reading to the cat or dog, or even reading to their friends via WhatsApp is a great way to keep your child engaged with reading. There are tons of apps available to keep your child practising their reading, writing and maths.
4. Young Children Learn Best Through Play and Fun.
It is so much easier to learn stuff when we enjoy it. Young children learn best through play. If construction is their thing, encourage their building and ask them questions about it when they have finished, set challenges if you want (“use this number/colour”) but just give your child freedom to use their imagination.
If your child loves to sing, encourage them! They could sing their favourite song, learn a new one, make one up and then perform it. There are loads of sign to sing videos available online. Don’t forget the power of nursery rhymes. These teach children vital listening skills, rhythmic and alliteration skills.
Is your five year old an artist? Get them to draw what makes them happy or sad. Do they love dinosaurs, the solar system or unicorns? Labeling their pictures encourages a bit of writing too. Popping them in an envelope and sending them to relatives or friends is super also.
Check out dough disco videos online. This is about rolling shapes with play dough to songs, developing rhythm and having fun (and also improving wrist strength for writing.) If you don’t have play dough, try blu tac, cotton wool balls or even use ‘invisible’ play dough! Yes, roll a fast and slow sausage, squeeze and pinch might sound odd, but your child (and you) will love it. Give it a go.
Sign up for a free Go Noodle account. This is a site that has tons of educational songs and dances on it. They are great for developing balance, coordination and memory, but most of all they will have you and your child laughing and dancing around the kitchen. My favourite is Banana Banana Meatball.
5. Teach Your Child to be Independent.
Not had time to teach your five year-old child how to dress and undress themselves independently? This is the perfect time to teach your five year-old some life skills. Teach your child to do up their coat zip. Encourage them to have a go at learning to tie knots and shoe laces. Tie scarves together and ask your child to separate them. What about how to put on a pair of gloves?
You may never get another chance as good as this one to make your life and your child’s life better. Embrace this time together, encourage your five-year-old’s independence, teach them about cooking and cleaning, have fun, laugh, try new experiences together, learn from each other and don’t give yourself a hard time. You will be doing your best and that is okay.
Eleanor Pyper is an Early Years Teacher who is passionate about the education and well-being of young children. She advocates a child-centred approach to enable young children to develop physically, emotionally and academically. Most importantly she believes young children learn best by playing, exploring and talking. She is also a mum of two boys living and working in lockdown, so she knows how you feel!
We hope you have enjoyed these five top tips for surviving lockdown with your five year-old.
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