Being Physically Prepared For School

A child’s physical development is more than their height, weight and/or build, it also has a lot to do with other aspects of our child’s body movements. For example, as a child reaches their schooling years (typically 6 or 7 years old), they learn the ability to use writing, drawing, and art tools, including pencils, markers, chalk, paint brushes, and various types of technology which is part of their fine motor skill pool.

Their gross motor skills, on the other hand, may include the ability to have control and balance in walking, climbing, running, jumping, hopping, skipping, marching, and galloping, just to name a few.

Much of these are learnt through structured and unstructured activities and other experiences during kindergarten, preschool or at home with you.

These skills are important in their formal schooling years and will be used quite often and some may even be a precursor for them to perform better athletically in sports or other physical activities. You should also try and keep track of your child’s physical growth from time to time by measuring their BMI-for-age.

Help your child to be prepared physically for the challenges he/she will face at school by providing:

Good nutrition

Food provides energy and the proper nutrition for your child to grow and realise his/her full potential. So prepare a balanced diet with at least 3 meals a day. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day as it provides the energy a child needs to stay focused, improves memory and reduces risk of illness, in addition to other benefits. You can use the Malaysian Food Pyramid for Children as a guide on how to prepare a balanced meal which is moderately portioned and full of nutritious variety.


Enough rest and sleep

Children aged 6-13 need 9-11 hours of sleep. At this age however, there is an increasing demand on their time from school, sports and other extracurricular and social activities. In addition, school-aged children become more interested in TV, computers and the internet as well as caffeine products. Adequate sleep is important especially for children because it directly impacts their mental and physical development.


Lots of exercise

Your child should get one hour or more of moderate physical activity on most or all days of the week. They should also participate in several bouts of physical activity of 15 minutes or more each day and avoid periods of inactivity of 60 minutes or more unless sleeping. Limit screen time to not more than two hours per day. Play catch, do some gardening or just ride a bicycle together each evening. Children who enjoy sports and exercise tend to stay active throughout their lives which helps to improve their self-esteem and reduce the risk of chronic illnesses later in life (e.g. obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease).

Health and safety awareness

Teach them the importance of disease prevention activities (e.g. hygiene, dental care, or sex education) and encourage a healthy lifestyle from young by enforcing good habits (i.e. avoid smoking and/or drinking alcohol irresponsibly).

Plenty of motor skill training

As parents, you should not only focus on your child’s writing and reading, but also help them with learning simple gross and fine motor skills (as above). Children with poor motor coordination and balance often have difficulties focussing in class, have shorter attention spans and are fidgety in their seats.

Suffice to say, physical skills are important for school readiness. It provides them with the confidence to participate in activities because they know they can perform a particular task without feeling overly awkward or intimidated. Aside from teaching your child or encouraging them to be more physical, you should also set a good example at home. After all, parents are every child’s primary role model.

Nevertheless, if you think your child has a physical growth problem/disorder (e.g. hyperthyroidism, dwarfism and growth hormone deficiency) or are concerned about his/her development in general, be sure to consult a doctor/specialist immediately.

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