A child should learn how to swim primarily for safety. According the World Health Organisation (WHO), drowning is the third cause of unintentional death globally with the highest rates being amongst children aged one to nine. In Malaysia, 500 children drown annually. Ideally, a child should learn the basics of swimming and water safety from the age of one. Swimming is also a great sport which boosts confidence and an activity the whole family can get involved in.
Head here to find out where to go to for toddler swimming lessons.
This is a skill even adults have a hard time with! It's said that children as young as three can already understand the concept of spending and saving, so it’s never too early to instill good habits. If a three-to-five-year-old asks for something expensive, don’t buy it immediately – teach them how to wait and that going into a shop doesn’t automatically mean they get something. This is also a good age to give them a piggy bank and explain what saving is. Differentiating between wanting and needing is also key.
There are so many jokes about navigating and map reading, from the cliché of men never wanting to ask for directions to women being unable to read maps. Reading a map is almost unnecessary these days due to GPS navigation systems, but instilling a sense of direction is important for a child. Teach them how to take note of street signs, road names and landmarks; how to get home and give directions should the need arise. As they get older, knowing how to navigate will come in handy if they take up hiking or camping, or if they just get lost.
Some of us may not regard this as a life skill, but it actually is, especially when making critical decisions. We make conscious and unconscious decisions every minute of the day, so we need to train our children to recognise right from wrong and to make the correct choice in every situation. Obviously, this is a lifelong process, but parents can begin the process from a young age so that unwise decisions are not made under duress. It’s also important to gently explain to a younger child (teenagers are altogether different) the outcome of a hasty or bad decision.
So many of us struggle with time management and feel that there just aren’t enough hours in the day. It’s normal for children to have short attention spans so learning about time management is one way to ensure tasks are completed on time. This is especially necessary as the child enters primary school where there’s more homework and class work to complete. That’s not to say parents must impose deadlines and schedules – children need time to play and get up to no good – but things like meal times and bedtime should be enforced and teaching them to be prepared for the school day (bags packed, homework done) are good first steps.