After such a hot summer we now turn our thoughts to regular routines and school preparedness, or school progress for our children. Whether they are returning to school or starting for the first time this month – we all want our children to be confident and capable; to fit in and find good friends…to have a confident start to school.
It is important, however, to remember that starting school – and school-readiness – is not about age; it’s about competence…and confidence.
My middle child and inspiration for Shapeeze was the second youngest, and one of the smallest when she started school alongside others who were ‘held back’ and up to a full year older. Having passed all the school-readiness tests and already very comfortable in the school environment as a younger sibling, there was never a question about whether Ella should be held-back. However, I wasn’t prepared for the interference from complete strangers that really knocked her confidence…
Stranger engaging with Ella: “Are you going to preschool this year?”
Ella (proudly): “No, I’m going to big school!”
Stranger – now totally ignoring Ella – to me: “Really??? Are you sure??? She’s so little!!!”
Ella (after about 5-6 of these interactions: “You’re wrong mum, I shouldn’t be going to school – everybody says so.”
Thanks to a last-minute confidence reboost via Shapeeze practice and (some) support from her older sister, Ella has not looked back after her first day and continues to thrive both academically and holistically at school, even mastering different handwriting requirements after relocating interstate.
Since launching a year ago, Shapeeze® has proven to be a useful resource to assist pre-schoolers build aptitude in basic literacy and numeracy, problem-solving and independent thinking whilst strengthening crucial fine motor skills. Why are they crucial? Fine motor skills involve using the small muscles which control the hand, fingers and thumb enabling your child to use pencils and scissors, do up buttons and zips, tie shoe laces and use building toys.reference
Many parents have also purchased Shapeeze kits for hand-eye coordination and handwriting practice for their children who are already at school up to years 1 or 2. The specially designed triangular barrelled pencils are an important part of the kits as they encourage correct hand positioning and are less likely to roll out of an unsteady hand helping your child to develop their writing skills.
The self-directed nature and “child-approved” designs can help children to stay on task. Moreover, as each design is a relatively short activity with a definite end, your child is rewarded with a real sense of achievement. I can’t say enough how special it has been to learn that this little idea I came up with all those years ago to help my Miss 4 start school confidently is also a relevant addition to the toolkits of OT’s and special needs carers.
There is one more benefit to Shapeeze fine motor fun®: every kit sold means I can continue supplying free kits to children’s welfare organisations including Barnardos and Mummies Paying It Forward. I truly believe every child deserves a confident start to their school years and put my $$ where my mouth is. In the past 12 months, over 200 children supported by welfare organisations have received their own Shapeeze fine motor fun activity kit thanks to customer purchases and support.