Tag: <span>emotional development</span>

Parents and teachers are puzzle pieces in child development - Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Val de Vie and Franschhoek

Emotionally ready for pre-primary school – how parents can help

Supporting your child to become emotionally ready for pre-primary school 

Mixed emotions, difficult choices, coping at work, experiencing utmost joy and contentment. As adults we are well known with these emotions. But what about your child? Emotional development and growth are a crucial part of your child’s early years, and you can help develop these. While this sounds like a daunting task, it is actually quite easy to support your child to become emotionally ready for pre-primary school.

Emotional development starts at home, in your womb. It is important to note that attending pre-primary school isn’t enough to develop your child emotionally, because emotional development can be compared with a 2-piece puzzle. The one piece is called ‘parents’ and the other ‘teachers’.

Parents and teachers are puzzle pieces in child development - Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Val de Vie and Franschhoek

If one of these puzzle pieces is missing, you might be exposing your child to: 

  • a lack of everyday coping skills 
  • difficulties in making friends 
  • a lack of self-belief
  • a sense of “I don’t fit in”
  • difficulties to cope in grade 1 and onwards.

Remember it is your child, not the school’s child. Your child is a learner in the pre-primary school, but his development remains your responsibility, albeit supported by the school. 

Research indicates that the inability to be in touch with and to explain emotions, can be linked to inadequate attention to sensory development. Make use of every opportunity to develop your child’s senses, and vocabulary by having “conversations” with your child.

As a parent, you can develop an emotionally “in touch” child at home, every day, by simply doing the following: Focus on your child’s five senses.

How focusing on sensory development can support your child to become emotionally ready for pre-primary school.

When you go for a walk, or play a game ask

“What noises can you hear?” What do you see/smell that makes you happy/sad/excited? Pick your favourite shaped leaf, squeeze it between your fingers (touch), how does it smell? Which texture do you like most, slippery/rough leaf and bark of a tree. If you still have a baby – use your vocabulary and senses and talk to your child, for example: “This is a beautiful day – look at the clear, blue sky”. “Smell the fresh air/orange rose”. “Feel the grass under your feet. Does it tickle your toes?” Take a few stones home to paint and have fun!

Using textures and feeling to develop your child - emotionally ready for the pre-primary school 

Listen to music 

Play a happy / sad /exciting / slow, fast song & ask your child how he/she feels when listening to that song. Ask questions to find out how your child feels, and how he can express himself. “How do you walk / jump when you feel sad / tired / when it’s very warm?” 

Hand puppets are a must in your household 

Teach your child how to deal with sadness, anger, frustration eg. the angry rabbit has a red ball of fire in his tummy and he wants to yell at his mom, or hit his brother, but he rather chooses to go and drink water / wash his face instead of hurting somebody else. Teach your child healthy ways of dealing with frustration, like hitting his pillow very hard or tearing paper from a magazine, crumpling and throwing it as hard as he can. In the end he realises that he feels better as he got rid of the big, red ball of anger in his body. (The same applies to feelings of sadness). 

Teach your child how to deal with sadness, anger, frustration using hand puppets

Water and sand play will make your day 

There is an old (and wise) saying that goes: Do you want a half-developed child – then don’t play with your child. It is amazing how playing with the simplest items in and around your house can unlock your child’s potential. Here are a few examples of activities you can try: 

  • Play with water and sand
  • Bake mud cakes 
  • Pour bubbles / leaves in the water
  • Wash the sand toys
  • Create situations in and around the house where your child can learn to wait his turn. 

Water and sand play are crucial exercises in your child's development

Touching and feeling different things 

Tickle your child’s nose with a feather, touch/rub her hair or face & say “you are a very special girl”, “I love you so much”. Massage his shoulders and back. Let your child comb / brush your hair. Draw different shapes/numbers on his back and visa versa. 

Be an example 

As a parent, your own emotions, and outlook on life can influence your child. This starts when the child is still in the mother’s womb, a baby, or a toddler. Keep your own emotions in check, and act as an example in developing an emotionally healthy, happy child. 

When tempers or frustrations run high, try the following. Instead of shouting, crying, throwing things around, use positive behaviour and vocabulary, like “I’m just going to drink a glass of water” (go to the bathroom for example and wash our hands/drink water), make yourself a cup of tea (depending on the situation) and then go back. By giving yourself this mental break, you would be able to think realistically and logically again and research indicates that the outcome will be:

  • a happier child, who feels safe and secure
  • a child who’s more ready to face everyday life situations for example dealing better with conflict between friends, having less emotional outbursts and tantrums 
  • becoming a teenager with a positive self-image. 

The school as your partner 

Your partner in the emotional development journey of your child is the school. Remember to check in frequently with your child’s teacher. Listen to what the teacher says and don’t be afraid to ask and understand why your child should be able to master the specific learning activities on his school report. 

In summary the emotional development of your child, where he can believe in himself, be happy and productive, starts with an involved parent. If not, you choose to only have a partly developed child. 

**Note** This article was initially written on request by Midstream College Pre-Primary schools and Bondev (developers of Midstream Estate), as part of a series of articles on child development. This article has already been published in the Midstream Magazine – February 2022 edition, on page 72.

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Photo credits – thanks a lot:
Puzzle pieces photo by Ashkan Forouzani on Unsplash
Hand puppet photo by Volha Milovich on Unsplash
Child playing with leaves by Scott Webb on Unsplash
Water and sand play photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
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