ensure your children can 'use their words'
TALK: Infant teacher Maeve Doyle spends a lot of time reminding her little pupils to use their words because all too often they're simply not used to talking.
Instead, she says, some will gesture or even just point. It's a very modern problem -- living in homes stuffed to the gills with computers, televisions, Xboxes and Nintendos, and driving cars equipped with portable DVD players, we often forget to talk to our young children.
But parents need to understand their role in helping a child develop crucial language skills, says Doyle.
"Children are coming in with poor communication skills. I spend a lot of my time reminding them to use their words because they tend to point or use gestures rather than communicate verbally."
Remember, advises infant teacher Lea McDaid, speaking to your child means they learn about language and communication incidentally.
"One of the first things I tell parents before their child starts school is to think about the importance of language development.
"So instead of switching on the latest electronic game, try playing traditional word games like 'I Spy' or 'Fortunately ... . Unfortunately', which will get them talking.
"It's a good idea to discuss what's passing by on the road for instance and to ask questions rather than sitting them in front of the DVD player," says McDaid.
"I'd really encourage parents to play word games or converse with their children during car journeys. Use everyday experiences to extend your child's vocabulary and language.
"No DVD can replace the conversation a child has with their parents."
- CULTIVATE independence in your child -- it's important that they're toilet-trained, can dress themselves, zip up a coat and put on their socks.
- WORK with them on their motor skills -- the more time spent on jigsaw puzzles, Plasticine, colouring, and building with blocks and the less on TV and computer games the better.
- LUNCHES should be appropriate to this age group -- for small break a few carrot sticks or raisins is enough. For big break try a healthy sandwich and a small piece of fruit or a yogurt.
- ENCOURAGE interaction with other children -- children who have had friends over tend to be more relaxed and understand sharing.
- BE prepared to let them go on the first day at school. This is a step in life that they must take.