Parenting influencer reveals hacks to master reception skills

Parenting influencer reveals hacks to master reception skills

Activities to do NOW to get your child ready for their first day in reception – including a rhyme to help them put on their shoes and a car game to learn how to write their name

  • Parenting influencer Molly Howard runs a blog dedicated to preschool activities
  • Molly uses hacks and games to encourage children to develop essential skills 
  • Includes teaching kids to put shoes on correct feet going to the toilet alone 

Every parent worries when their little one goes to school but with kids denied of socialisation during the pandemic, many will be fretting about how they’ll cope with independence for the first time. 

British influencer Molly Howard, who runs a blog dedicated to toddler and preschool activities, shared with Femail her top tips on preparing under fives for starting reception. 

Molly, who runs the CreateMakeandPlay Instagram page, uses simple hacks and games to encourage children to develop essential skills they’ll need ahead of starting school. 

Her advice, complied in collaboration with childminding experts tiney, includes teaching kids to put shoes on the correct feet going to the toilet independently, washing their own hands and cutting their own food. 

The shoe trick: How to teach children to put their shoes on the correct feet

Teach children the phrase: ‘The straps in the middle need to meet or they are on the wrong feet!’ to help them remember which foot to put their shoes on 

It’s important for children starting school to wear shoes with straps, until they can tie their own laces. This will make it easier for them to become independent when getting dressed and undressed.

Putting shoes on the wrong feet is a simple mistake for young children to make. But there are two simple tricks which will help them remember to put their shoes on the correct feet without the help of an adult.

Have you heard of the shoe trick? Teach children the phrase: ‘The straps in the middle need to meet or they are on the wrong feet!’. 

You could also try: ‘The straps must be able to give each other a kiss and if they cannot then the shoes are on the wrong feet.’

Another little trick is to either stick a sticker on the inside of the middle side of each shoe to help them remember which way round they go.

The coat trick: How to teach children how to put on their own coat

Teach children the phrase: ‘Tag near the toes, arms in the holes, over it goes!’ to teach them to put on their own coat 

Have you heard of the coat trick? Teach children the phrase: ‘Tag near the toes, arms in the holes, over it goes!’. 

This coat flip is a quick and easy technique to teach young children how to put their coats on independently with little or no help from an adult.

Lay the coat on the floor in front of the child, making sure the tag of the coat is by the child’s toes. Then encourage the child to put their hands into the arm holes then flip the coat over their heads.

Car park name nuzzle: How to teach children to spell their name

Blending name recognition into childrens’ play is a simple way to make them blissfully unaware that they are learning something new and help them spell their name 

Do you have a child who is reluctant to read or write their name? Here is a quick and simple name recognition activity for any child who loves cars. Blending name recognition into childrens’ play is a simple way to make them blissfully unaware that they are learning something new.

What you will need: Cardboard, masking tape, pen, toy cars

How to make the game: Draw a simple outline of a car park onto a piece of card. Write one letter in each parking space. Then add a piece of masking tape to the top of each car and write one letter on each.

Muddle the cars up and see if the child can park the correct car in each space by matching the letters.

Tricky challenge: Turn the piece of cardboard over and draw empty parking spaces. Can the child order the cars into spaces to spell out their name?

Once the child can recognise and say the individual sounds in their name you could extend this activity by getting them to close their eyes whilst you hide a letter sound. Can the child identify which sound is missing?

Block name puzzle: Another way to teach children how to spell their name

Wiring letters on building blocks is also a great way to help children recognise their name if you don’t fancy using cars

This is another quick and easy name recognition game, if you don’t fancy using cars. Write one letter onto each building block. 

Muddle up the letters so the child can practice putting the blocks back in the correct order to spell their name.

Once the child can recognise and say the individual sounds in their name you could extend this activity by getting them to close their eyes whilst you hide a letter. Can the child identify which letter or sound is missing? 

Once they’ve mastered their name you could introduce new words to the child: for example a sibling’s name, mum or dad.

Emotions sensory tray: Teaching children to express their emotions

Helping them to match facial expressions to feelings using a sensory tray is one way to help children understand and regulate their emotions

Starting school can be very daunting for a young child, so it’s important to create opportunities for them to talk openly about how they might be feeling. Helping them to match facial expressions to feelings is one way to help them understand and regulate their emotions.

Creating an emotions sensory tray can help them work through how they’re feeling. Try adding desiccated coconut to a mirrored tray so a child can look into it and draw faces. It’s the perfect calming activity to help children mirror and express how they’re feeling in a creative way. 

Influencer Molly Howard, who runs a blog dedicated to toddler and preschool activities shared with Femail her top tips on preparing under fives for starting Reception class

This activity can also help prompt a conversation about their emotions.

Adding some emotional stones or cards to the tray can also help children talk about each emotion and link it to experiences in their own lives.

Here are some examples of ways to start a conversation based on what they create: ‘He looks a bit scared; I wonder why that may be?’; ‘Do you remember when you were a little scared on your first day at nursery? Could he be scared about starting big school, maybe?’.

Encouraging children to express their emotions in this way promotes good mental health, which in turn promotes good physical health and is good practice for their long-term wellbeing. As an adult the child looks up to, it is important to model these conversations to show the child that you are there to listen to them about how they feel. 

Broaching emotions with your child can also help you to better understand and manage how they’re feeling.

Emotions toilet roll stacker: Teaching children to recognise different emotions

Molly shared a quick and simple  game, which can help teach children how to identify different emotions by matching different faces to faces drawn on toilet rolls 

This is a quick and simple emotions game, which can help teach children how to identify different emotions. This is a really important lesson, as being able to understand emotions and express themselves will help them control and regulate their feelings, develop emotional intelligence and develop self-awareness around how to self-soothe.

For this game all you need is a kitchen roll holder and some toilet roll tubes.

Draw a different face (emotion) on each toilet roll tube and cut each one in half. Make about 4 different emotions, then mix the different halves together. Ask the child to match the two matching halves together.

This activity is a brilliant way to teach a child how to identify different emotions. You can sit and look at them together and link the emotion in the image to real life experiences and their own lives, for example how they might be feeling about starting school. You can also use the tubes as prompts to talk about why people might feel certain emotions. 

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