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How to Teach a Preschooler Valuable Life Skills

life skills for preschool kids

Characteristics of Preschoolers and Kindergarten Kids

What is a Good Preschool Curriculum?

How to Talk to Preschoolers

How to Read to Preschoolers

How to Introduce Certain Foods to Preschoolers

How do I Help My Child Be Resilient?

How to Handle Toddler Tantrums?

How to Help My Child Learn About Winning and Losing?

Teaching your preschooler life skills isn’t just a walk in the park, as any parent would tell you. However, it can be one of the most fulfilling parenting roles you can play.

Preschoolers (around the ages of 3 to 6 years old) are at a very fun and exciting phase of their growth and development. Attending kindergarten, nurseries, or childcare centres, they are like little sponges, soaking up every nugget of information about the world and the people around them.

You might be glad to know that much of what your preschooler learns will be picked up through everyday events and interactions. Simply by playing, singing nursery rhymes, mimicking adults and other children, and having a ball of a time, your preschooler will learn “pre-skills” which form the foundation of their learning and development in the future.

What can parents do to educate, nurture and guide your preschool child? Which educational methods work best for a kid in their early childhood stages?

In this article, you will learn key topics and concerns surrounding your preschooler’s development, behaviours and learning:

Characteristics of Preschoolers and Kindergarten Kids

Curious to know the developmental milestones of your preschooler?

  • Birth to 3 Months — Your baby will start to interact with the world around them
  • 4 to 6 Months — Expect more fun expressions on your baby. They’ll also start to move and crawl
  • 1 to 2 Years — Your child can move independently, listen to you (and other adults), interact with others, and play
  • 2 to 3.5 Years — Toddlers learn really fast, and may get agitated if things don’t go their way (the terrible twos!)
  • 3.5 to 5 years — Nursery-aged children have longer attention spans, can play with others, follow rules, and talk a lot more!
  • 5 to 7 years — Kindergarten kids are a lot more curious about the world, and can express themselves both in words and drawings.

Here are the developmental milestones to look out for – from birth to 7 years.

child development milestones chart

What is a Good Preschool Curriculum?

Wish to choose a good preschool with the right curriculum for your child?

A good preschool should possess the following qualities:

  • An established reputation
  • Child-friendly and safe facilities
  • Warm and passionate teachers
  • Stimulating and conducive environment

A high-quality preschool programme should centre around the knowledge that children learn best through discovery, play and hands-on learning.

Shaws Preschool is one of the few childcare centres in Singapore featuring a play-based curriculum. Play is one of the most effective approaches for preschool children to learn and retain knowledge — both academic as well as essential life skills.

Some of the benefits of a play-based curriculum for your child includes:

  • Helping to build your child’s confidence
  • Promoting curiosity
  • Enhancing critical thinking
  • Teaching teamwork
  • Promoting love for learning
  • Increasing joy for life

For more information on how play stimulates your child’s learning and development, hop over here!

How to Talk to Preschoolers

How can you as a parent talk to your preschoolers so that they actually listen?

We recommend using full sentences, proper words and not baby talk! You should speak clearly and simply, with love and respect.

Depending on your child’s age, try to keep your verbal instructions to one to two-steps. Enunciate your words clearly — do not babble or ramble if you can help it.

Finally, do not forget that your body language, tone, and gestures can all support your preschooler’s ability to listen to and understand you. Positive nonverbal communication — such as a smile, a hand on their shoulder, and eye contact — not just supports their learning of everyday skills, but can improve your relationship with your child.

Here are some ideas you can apply at home:

  • Touch your child’s arm to get his attention and to show that you care about what he is saying or doing.
  • Face your child and ensure eye contact. This says that “You’re important to me”.
  • Bend down to your child’s level. This shows that you want to be close and helps your child feel connected to you. It also improves listening and communication.

How do we answer our preschooler’s questions? Preschoolers are always asking, “Why?” Sometimes their questions seem endless, and it can be frustrating if they’re throwing you a string of questions when you’re busy with work or chores.

One thing to keep in mind in such scenarios is that your child’s curiosity is perfectly normal and is a good thing. It means that they are figuring out the world we live in and that they trust you to be able to give them the right answers.

Here are some tips to remember:

  • Tell the truth. If we make up stories when we don’t have all the facts, it can be confusing to a child if the topic comes up again later.
  • Keep your points simple. Don’t overwhelm your child with too many facts.
  • You can always turn it around and ask “That’s an interesting question…What do you think?” This can also help you to understand where your child is coming from, or what crosses her mind at that moment.
  • Be honest – you can always admit that you don’t have the answer or are unsure how to respond at that moment. However, do try to follow up when you’re available to speak about the topic later.

The Importance of Reading to Preschoolers

Want your child to love reading? The best way to teach your child to read is to make it an enjoyable and shared activity. The bonding you develop with your child offers him the sense of security needed to explore, learn and grow.

Instead of just focusing on building the skill of reading, develop a love for books in your preschooler! Books can open their minds to different cultures and ways of life. Good books further stimulate their imagination, expands their understanding of the world, develops language and listening skills, and prepares them to understand the written word.

How to cultivate a love for books in your preschooler?

  • Read, read, and read with your child from an early age. Make it a morning, afternoon, or a bedtime ritual!
  • Be seen reading by your child. (Yes, that means putting away your smartphones every now and then!)
  • Visit the library together and allow your child to choose some books.
  • Maintain a collection of different books at home. Include a range of topics, such as nursery rhymes, classics, fairy tales, and poems.
  • Don’t stop reading to your child, even after he learns to read. This can be a bonding ritual that both of you would treasure in the years to come.

Reading activities you can try at home

  • Dramatise your stories: Use different voices and tones to depict different characters in your story. Get your child involved in playing a character too!
  • Make story puppets: Create puppets of your child’s favourite storybook characters out of socks or paper bags. Use the puppets to dramatise the story with your child.
  • Relate everyday situations: Associate a real-life activity with a storybook character. For example, if you do see a caterpillar on aleaf, you can associate it with Eric Carle’s beloved classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

For more benefits of reading, hop over to learn why we should read to our children!

How to Introduce Certain Foods to Preschoolers

How do I make my child eat her vegetables? This is one of the top questions that parents ask.

And yes, how can we as parents avoid power struggles at the dining table?

Firstly, understand that our preschoolers are learning to exert their independence. Resisting to eat their greens and throwing their food on the floor are some of the ways which toddlers do so.

As parents, our role is to present as wide a variety of healthy foods as possible, and allow our children some liberty in choosing what they wish to eat. Threatening a child with a punishment or bribing a child with a reward or dessert are tactics that are commonly used, but may backfire in the long run.

Instead of punishing or using threats, focus on creating a fun and positive atmosphere during mealtimes. Where possible, make it a family activity with everyone present.

Here are some tips you might find useful:

  1. Serve meals when your child is hungry: Don’t give your child a big snack, and then expect him or her to eat a full meal. They may simply not be hungry.
  2. When presenting something new, don’t be upset if your child doesn’t take to it straightaway. It may take a few attempts before they accept or even try a novel food item.
  3. Don’t offer an alternative right away: Some parents have a bottle of milk waiting for the child if they don’t eat their meal. If your child knows this, they will not be motivated to fill their tummies.
  4. Cook food your child will enjoy: If they are trying new foods, include this with food you know they like.
  5. Involve your child in putting simple recipes together, such as making a pizza or a ham and cheese sandwich.

Easy and healthy food ideas for kids

Wonder what you can prepare that is healthy and easy for your kid? Check out these food ideas below:

What do I do if my child still won’t eat?

If your child still refuses to eat anything you present to him, check out these tips on how to help your picky eater eat!

How Do I Help My Child Be Resilient?

Why is resilience important in today’s world? What exactly is resilience, and how can you build them in your preschooler?

Very Well Mind defines resilience as follows:

“Resilience is the mental reservoir of strength that people are able to call on in times of need to carry them through without falling apart.”

Given the uncertainties of today’s fast moving world, wouldn’t all of us want our children to have this mental reservoir of strength?

At Shaws Preschool, we’ve broken this big concept of resilience into smaller parts and goals:

  • A strong sense of independence and autonomy
  • The ability to communicate well with others
  • Good problem-solving skills
  • Strong empathy and respect for others
  • Knows how to ask for support

We know building resilience is a process – that takes time, experiences, and lots of support and encouragement. With resilience, your child will be able to overcome adversities which may come later in life.

What can we as parents do to help build resilience in our child? Consider these seven steps:

  1. Let children observe how you cope with challenging times
  2. Give them experiences to cope with challenges
  3. Encourage healthy risk-taking
  4. Embrace failure (and even celebrate it)
  5. Encourage self-efficacy
  6. Encourage grit and persistence
  7. Let them know that “I’m here for you!”

With these tips and your continuous support, your children will begin to grow their resilience, and bounce back quickly from any challenges and setbacks.

preschooler throwing basketball into a hoop

How To Handle Toddler Tantrums/Biting in Preschoolers

In order to answer this question, we need to first understand why toddlers have tantrums in the first place. Tantrums are pretty common in toddlers and preschoolers, so don’t feel that you’re a bad parent if you encounter them! They are hard to prevent — even early childhood experts struggle to respond calmly and effectively in the middle of one.

Put simply, tantrums are the outward symptoms of an internal state: your child is struggling with big emotions that she can’t regulate. Sometimes it is also exacerbated by immature speech skills, which is why tantrums typically peak at the age of 1-3 years, also known as the “terrible twos”. Because toddlers cannot fully express what they want, feel, or need, the frustration they feel triggers a tantrum.

5-Step Process to Manage Toddler Tantrums

Let’s face it — tantrums happen, no matter what we do to prevent them. Here are some best practices for handling tantrums:

  1. Stay calm. Step away and take a breath if you need to. If you get angry, it may make the situation snowball.
  2. When you speak to your toddler, keep your voice calm and speak normally.
  3. Acknowledge your child’s feelings. For example, “Oh your cookie fell onto the floor. You must be feeling so upset.”
  4. In the heat of the moment, refrain from reasoning with your child. Instead just stay close and wait for the big emotions to pass.
  5. Be consistent in your approach. If you sometimes give in to your child when they have tantrums and at other times, you don’t, the problem could get worse.

Is there anything I can do to prevent tantrums?

To minimize or prevent the occurrence of toddler meltdowns, consider these simple steps:

  1. Observe the signs. If your child is tired, hungry or overstimulated, tantrums tend to occur. Reduce stress by taking the appropriate action, such as getting your child to take a nap.
  2. Identify common triggers, and have some strategies on hand to combat them. (One common scenario is when waiting for your turn at the supermarket.)
  3. Reduce tantrums by tuning in to your child’s emotions and helping them identify and express what they are feeling.

How do teachers handle tantrums in the classroom?

In a preschool classroom, social-emotional learning naturally occurs throughout the day as children interact with one another, learn to take turns, share resources, and work together.

During these interactions, moments of upset are bound to occur. Preschool teachers would then be able to use these moments to teach and encourage prosocial behaviour — such as making amends if the child has hurt a friend.

If a tantrum occurs, our preschool teachers would first empathise with the child, while helping her express her feelings through words or other means such as drawing.

How To Help My Preschool Child Learn About Winning and Losing

As parents, we are often focused on helping our young children to win and succeed — whether it’s learning to tie their laces or scoring goals in a junior-league soccer match. However, teaching your preschooler to lose well is just as important.

Coping with the lousy feelings of loss is the first step towards moving on. Losing at a board game is one way for children to experience those feelings, and learn from their mistakes. These skills at ‘losing’ will help them to deal with setbacks in life when they become older. It also teaches them to show empathy towards others.

Here are some tips to prevent your child from being a sore loser:

  • Praise your child’s effort regardless of the outcome
  • Help your child understand feelings of sadness, disappointment or frustration. Talk about ways to deal with these feelings.
  • Teach anger management skills, like “It’s not okay to hurt someone when you’re upset, but it’s okay to shout into a pillow or ask for a drink.”
  • Don’t let your child win on purpose as it will reinforce the difficulty and unpleasantness of losing.
  • Help your child to focus on the fun experience they had playing the game, instead of who won or lost.

Conclusion

With these tips on how to teach a preschooler to eat well, play well, socialise well, and handle setbacks well, we hope that you’ll come to enjoy being your child’s first teacher and role model in life.

Remember, it is a journey, and there will be ups and downs. But keep your eye on the goal, and allow yourself and your child room to grow and make mistakes.

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