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Trying to give kids the best start(4 Posts)
Our oldest will be due to start primary school next year. We can't afford private education and we also can't afford to move house to get into a really good state school. Our kids will go to the local state school which is nice enough but doesn't seem to do many activities with the kids (eg PE is very basic, no sports that involve expensive equipment, no outdoorsy activities, resources are fairly limited).
While we can't afford to spend thousands, I would like to use the spare cash we do have to try to give our kids a good start in life. I would love them to be able to try lots of hobbies/sports to find something they like and are good at. We could afford to get a tutor if needed for example, or could afford expensive clubs in the holidays or could support a child through an expensive hobby, but as can't do all of these things if you see what I mean. We need to pick and choose.
To those in a similar situation, can I ask for what you have done to give me some inspiration? If you couldn't buy a better school education, what have you done instead to try to give your child a good start? What low cost/no cost things have you done that you think have been excellent for your kids?
Assuming your oldest is 4, you may be getting a little bit ahead of yourself.
I'd suggest enrolling him in swimming lessons (swimming is an important skill and he won't learn enough through school swimming) and perhaps one other activity to start with. While he is young, I'd focus on encouraging him to try things - maybe for half a term or a term at a time and look to see what he enjoys. Infants age is all about trying things.
From about 6/7 you can look to start things like music lessons, activities like Beavers (get him on waiting list now) and if he shows an aptitude/interest in a particular sport the sports clubs start running "proper" teams/running training more seriously.
If you're not already a member, join the local library and encourage him to read anything and everything (reading to him as well). Take him to museums, art galleries and stately homes (difficult at the moment, I know). Go for walks in the countryside and explore nature. Do not equate "expensive" with "better".
Put their name on the waiting list for beavers/brownies now as they can be years long. Most important have a house full of books and encourage them to love reading (this may mean you reading to them from books they chose from the library rather than forcing them to read before they're ready). Model a love if reading by getting books from the library yourself too. Reading a lot is the most significant factor in improving education outcomes. Take them on days out - museums, the beach. Talk to them about the world and ask their thoughts. Encourage discussion. Give them lots of opportunity to hold a pencil in whichever way they enjoy (dot to dot, colouring, mazes etc). Play board games, do puzzles, cook together (encourage them to measure out ingredients and be independent - great for maths and self confidence) .
Don't rush to enroll in lots of clubs at 4 or 5 years old but consider swimming lessons as PP said. Give them plenty of time for free play on their own and also with you.
When they're older (6+) think about what hobbies they may enjoy and give them a chance to try them out without pressure. If they choose their hobbies themselves it'll be something they're willing yo really go for and will be much more valuable.
Read to them and encourage them to enjoy books
Cook with them as this develops hand eye coordination and you can introduce maths
Make sure they can hold a pencil properly , dress themselves and do up their shoes
Make them independent and responsible for their own belongings.
You could start introducing phonics - I strongly recommend the Oxford Reading Tree. Children love the stories
Encourage them to develop concentration and listening skills - play stories to them in the car, listen to things like Peter and the Wolf and talk to them about the stories you read or hear.