Getting the most out of Pre-school education

Sarah Mills, Head of Pre-school, British Council Singapore tells us why pre-school plays a crucial role in developing your child to be a well-rounded individual.

Why is Pre-school important?

Pre-school education can give children the foundations they need to be able to progress successfully through their social and academic life. It develops skills such as being able to turn-take, share and relate to others. It also teaches them how to behave appropriately, and shows the importance of following instructions and rules. Pre-school supports children as they move from dependency towards independence. Academically, it presents children with the roots for language and literacy development, including phonics and comprehension skills. Pre-school plays a crucial role in developing your child to be a well-rounded individual.

Key skills to develop for Pre-schoolers

  • Motor skills (fine and gross)- developing gross motor skills such as activities that involve large movements with arms or legs  (running, jumping, climbing) helps children develop more refined movements with hands or fingers (sewing, threading, holding a pencil and writing). Both are very important for Pre-school children.
  • Literacy 
  1. Phonics- these are the tools children need when learning to read. It enables them tackle unknown or difficult words and helps them understand the structure of words and in turn sentences. 
  2. Comprehension- alongside phonics, a child must also understand what is being read to ensure they become active readers. Story time whether at home or in Pre-school should be an interactive process to aid comprehension skills.
  • Oral fluency- opportunities for children to speak and share their ideas in Pre-school, for example, Circle Time, Show and Tell, is really important for developing speech and language. It also gives child the courage to speak out in front of others thus building their confidence.
  • Vocabulary- exposure to new themes and words through storybooks, classroom topics and excursions adds to a child’s vocabulary range.  
  • Social- interacting with other children helps children develop their listening skills such as turn-taking and following instructions. It also teaches children that to think of others and helps them understand themselves in relation to the rest of the world.

Supporting your Pre-schooler at home

Here are some practical activities you can do with your child at home to support their learning:

  • Review songs your child has learnt in Pre-school by singing the songs together or by asking your child to sing the song to you. 
  • Story time- try to read a story with your child each day. 
  1. Before reading- explore their interests by allowing them to choose the story. 
  2. Whilst reading-every 2-3 pages, stop and ask your child some questions to check comprehension, for example, what is the little girl’s name? Where did she go? 
  3. After reading- do some follow-up activities to reinforce themes and characters. 
  • Story follow-up ideas: - 
  1. Art and Craft- draw a character from the story; make a model car from cardboard. 
  2. Drama- build your own castle using chairs and a sheet. This provides children with an opportunity to explore, experiment and develop creativity based on the story. 
  • Buy some reading books- as your child begins to start reading, it is important they have regular practice at home. Ensure that the level of the reading book is suitable for your child, check with the Pre-school if you are unsure.
  • Treasure hunts- to reinforce letter sounds learnt, you can place objects around the home that start with a letter (ie. ‘s’) and ask your child to search for objects that start with that letter (ie. ‘shoe’). Setting a time limit for this activity will make it more fun.
  • Seek feedback from Pre-school teachers/enrichment teachers- communicating with teachers will give you a clear picture of your child’s progress and inform you of what you need to focus on at home. It is important that home and Pre-school have a unified approach to your child’s development.