Do you know how to ensure a preschooler is getting what he or she needs to be successful in school? Are you confident your preschooler is ready to start kindergarten?
Recent research has shown that the skills and knowledge that children have upon entering kindergarten impacts their later school success. As a result, there has been increased focus on ensuring that four and five year-old children are ready to begin school. Many parents focus on their child developing academic skills, such as counting, knowing the alphabet and writing, as a means to ensure their child’s school success. And though it is important that children are equipped with these skills, most kindergarten teachers insist that social and emotional skills are just as important.
Here are some things you can do to ensure your child is ready for kindergarten:
- Reinforce your child’s social skills. Practice sharing, following instructions and use of good manners. Provide opportunities for her to interact with other children. Praise your child when she demonstrates pleasing or positive behaviors. Label the praise by naming the specific behavior is most helpful to children. For example, “I liked how you were willing to share your blocks.”
- Help your child move from one task to another and follow instructions. Use routines with expectations of what he is to do in the morning, at dinner time, etc. Assign chores to him and give simple instructions. Set time limits on certain activities and help him stop when time is up and move to a new activity.
- Support your child’s emotional skills. Acknowledge your child’s feelings by taking the time to listen to her wants and needs. Do not try to “fix” or down play her feelings. Help your child identify different feelings and use words to say her feelings out loud and tell others how she feels.
- Address separation. If you're leaving your preschooler in a new environment, you might play with her for a few minutes to ease the transition. When you leave, remind her that you'll be back. Be specific about when you'll return, such as "after lunch" or "after your nap" and be sure to be on time. Don't prolong your goodbye and leave a reminder, such as a note from you or another comforting object for your child to hold while you're gone.
- Become acquainted with your child’s school. Attend open houses and schedule time to meet with potential kindergarten teachers before school starts. Share information about your child—if your child attends preschool then ask preschool teachers what information about him you should share with the school. Establish relationships with other parents whose children will be attending the same school.
- Support early literacy. Increase your child’s comfort with books. Read books out loud to her frequently. Ask her to join in the story-telling by asking questions about the pictures in the book or what she thinks will happen next. Encourage your child to hold the book, turn the pages and tell you a story.