The roles of preschool children

The roles of preschool children

In our blog series we have been looking at a range of school readiness skills including phonological awareness or sound awareness skills, articulation and language skills. We have discussed social and emotional development and strategies to assist the children in your care. Of course there are lots of other skills that children will be developing in the years before they start school.

In this blog, we will be looking further into children’s development and learning milestones in the years before a child starts school. I know that as educators, parents and clinicians we are all working to ensure that children have a range of opportunities to become successful learners, be confident and creative individuals and ultimately healthy, active and informed adults. 

This will be strongly connected to the five learning outcomes in the Australian Early Years Learning Framework. The content from this blog is taken from a discussion with Katrina Wakely, Lecturer in Occupational Therapy with the University of Newcastle Department of Rural Health in Tamworth NSW.

Occupational therapists work to assist people to develop functional skills to allow them to be independent and successful in their various roles or ‘occupations’ throughout the life cycle.

Children have lots of roles and in the year before school some of these include:

The role of looking after themselves

In the years before school starts, children learn to be independent in toileting, dressing and feeding. Educators and parents can help by allowing children lots of opportunities to become confident and independent. You can do this by gradually stepping back and allowing children to do more and more on their own. For example you may do up all the buttons except one and ask the child to do the last button themselves. Gradually ask them to do more. Allow enough time for children to put on socks and shoes, practice opening lunch boxes and unwrapping food before they start school.

The role of student

Children will develop dominance in their right or left hand. They will move away from a fisted grip to a pencil grip using their fingers. They need to be able to hold paper in one hand and use scissors to cut with the other hand. They can be drawing and copying shapes. They don’t need to be copying letters although some children will be interested in this before they start school. The ability to focus on a task will be developing and they will be able to sustain concentration for longer periods.

The role of player

Playing is one of the most important roles for preschool children. It is during play that children learn to solve problems, use language, practice fine and gross motor skills, develop play stories and sustain these over time. Complex and sustained concentration is developed during play.

The role of being a friend

As a friend, a child learns to take turns and consider the feelings of others. This is when social skills develop and friendships are formed.

The years before school are a critical time in a child’s development where they are learning, practicing and developing a range of skills they will use throughout their life.

Are you interested in a new way of supporting training and development for you and your team?

For educators

The Sounds good to me course is designed for use in early childhood services and centres. It provides both excellent professional development for your team as well as everything you need to implement a fun, play based program of lessons and activities suitable for your 3-5 year group.

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For parents

Would you like to learn simple and effective ways you can help your child be ready for school?

Sounds good to me – for parents was created by speech pathologists, covering all aspects of early literacy (language and reading) skills that your child needs before they start school.

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