Young Children: from 4-5 years old
The Department of Basic Education (DBE) has articulated Life Skills as a subject that exposes children and youth to “a range of knowledge, skills and values that strengthen their:
• physical, social, personal, emotional and cognitive development;
• creative and aesthetic skills and knowledge through engaging in dance, music, drama and visual art activities;
• knowledge of personal health and safety;
• understanding of the relationship between people and the environment;
• awareness of social relationships, technological processes and elementary science
- It is mostly during playtime that children are given a chance to try out problem solving and critical and creative thinking skills. They are able to shed new light on existing situations in order to help them find new ways of looking at similar things. Invention is very important to them.
Tip: Set up challenges in the playground for physical movement. Expose the child to many different situations. Build and make and create!
- Young children are very curious and adventurous and like to ask about their new findings.
Tip: Patiently listen to their questions. Give them a simple and clear answer until the child is satisfied. If you do not know something, say so, then enthusiastically go find the answer/answers together!
- The preschool years can be one of the most creative times in a child’s life. While children’s imagination is still developing, drama, music, dance and visual art foster creativity and help them develop new skills.
Tip: Giving your preschooler the time and space to be creative is very important. Preschoolers like to be spontaneous in their play, so follow their lead when it comes to creative play. For example, give them and old hat and watch what happens – have an old hat too and join in!
- Young children play increasingly in small cooperative groups to develop complex structures and games with available materials.
Tip: Discuss cooperation and rules for working together when children are ready for this and there is a ‘teachable moment’. The “building materials” for the structures can be anything from the nature outside to old cardboard boxes.
- As children develop, their artworks contain more and more detail. Drawings of people are usually basic figures to begin with. Realistic shape, scale and other characteristics come a little later.
Tip: During teachable moments, point out and discuss shapes of various parts of the body the child has drawn like eyebrows, ears, etc.
- Preschoolers love to express themselves and their ideas using crayons, paints, play dough, clay, scissors, glue and paper.
Tip: Allow the child to cut out simple shapes but be sure to use a child-safe pair of scissors. Give them access to lots of safe arts and crafts materials.
Music, Dance and Drama
- Preschoolers use songs, dress-up, art materials, language and movement to express feelings, experiences and ideas.
Tip: Encourage the children to make up movements and dance to accompany actions in stories and rhymes. Join in!
- Preschoolers will usually be able to recognise and name favourite songs, and sing parts of them fairly accurately. They will quickly come to learn theirs favourite songs off by heart and understand the differences between fast and slow, long and short, and loud and soft singing.
Tip: Teach your children many songs in lots of different languages. Sing the songs with them over and over again.
- Children love nature and animal stories, and love to act out or imitate sounds and actions.
Tip: Get the child to mimic different animal movements for instance, flying like a butterfly, creeping like a caterpillar, hopping like a frog.