If your child was to become separated from you, would they be able to tell the authorities where they live? Or what their phone number is? Or even what their parents’ names are?
No one ever thinks that they will be the parent with a lost preschooler or young child, but it happens so easily. You take your eye off them for a second out in public and they’re gone! It can be frightening, especially if your child doesn’t know how to get in touch with you.
Teaching kids their contact information is important for safety reasons and can be started from around age three or four. It’s also great for helping kids understand their place in their community and in the world.
What to teach kids
Firstly, find out what they already know. Thanks mainly to our country’s amazing sporting abilities they probably already know that they live in New Zealand!
Then start with the basics. Firstly, help them to learn their full name and the name of their parents/caregivers. Then work on their house/apartment number, street address, suburb and city or town, and country. Remembering phone numbers is a lot trickier in this modern age when a lot of people don’t have a landline and mobile numbers are so long but have a go at teaching them one number.
Tell your child that it is important that they know their contact information but avoid scaring them with horror stories of abduction! Just tell them that if they need to get in touch with you, they will have the information they need. Help them to understand when they should share their contact information and who with. Also ensure that they understand that just because they know where they live they still are not allowed to go anywhere without you or a caregiver. For older children, ensure that they know that they should never divulge personal contact information online.
How to teach them their contact information
There are a multitude of ways that you can teach your child their personal contact information. Repetition like simple write and repeat exercises, role-play and fun learning are key. Here are a few other ideas.
- Sing the phone number as a catchy tune
- Use a calculator to show them the order they press the buttons for their phone number
- Make your phone number out of LEGO bricks
- Make up cards with each letter of their full name and arrange them in order or use fridge magnets
- Get them to draw a picture of the family and add the proper names of each person and pet
- Write a letter/postcard to a parent/caregiver in their own home so they can see their name and address
- Show them the number on their mailbox, the name on their street sign, their town name on road signs, etc
- Make a map of your neighbourhood and use toy cars, paper houses, and figures to show them their street and local things like shops, a park, or a relative’s house
Beyond their neighbourhood
Extending your child’s learning to understand their place in the world is a fun activity. You can do this in several ways but the concept is that each step of their location gets bigger.
For instance, use cardboard boxes of various shapes that will fit into each other.
- The smallest box is their house, so write your address on this one and add a picture of a house
- For the next size up, put the name of your suburb and a neighbourhood map
- For the next biggest box, put the name of your city/town and a picture of something that your city is known for, ie a landmark or sports team
- The next box is for your country with a map of NZ (and mark on the map where your city/town is)
- The final box is Earth so pop a picture of our world on it and mark where NZ is
- You can then show your child how their home fits within our world
- Instead of boxes, you can also use containers, or just different sized paper/cardboard shapes and stack them
- You can even turn it into a fun learning game of pass the parcel starting with Earth and each layer bringing them closer to home (with a small treat for their bedroom in the final wrapping!)
Written by Julie Scanlon
Julie is Editor for Kidspot NZ and our MVP. Her hobbies include laughing uncontrollably at her own jokes, annoying her family by asking questions about movie plots, and never taking anything too seriously. She speaks a little Spanish and a lot of Yorkshire.
Favourite motto to live by: “It ain’t nothing but a thing”