Many parents ask, “How can I prepare my child for preschool and kindergarten?”
School readiness encompasses more than a few isolated skills such as recognizing the letters or counting to ten. It is important to look at the whole child and the skills and strengths that s/he has already developed. That is what makes them unique. One child may easily enter play situations, but may find it hard to hold a pencil correctly. Another may excel in physical skills, but his shyness makes it difficult to make friends.
Here are five tips to prepare your child for preschool or kindergarten:
- Help develop independence at home. Find activities of daily living that your child can master such as dressing, undressing, putting dirty clothes in the laundry hamper, serving herself food. Break the activities down to small, do-able steps at first. Then have patience as they practice.
- Teach responsibility. Start giving your child small responsibilities if you haven’t already. A child can put the napkins on the table for the family meal and even wipe up spilled milk.
- Develop and follow routines. Set up morning routines so that the child is ready to go to school. Getting up around the same time, getting dressed and having an early breakfast is a good transition to school.
- Read aloud to your child. A tablet or smart phone is no substitute for a book. With your child, browse the children’s section of the library and check out some books. Then read them to your child every day.
- Acknowledge feelings. A child may show some apprehension to going to school or be very excited. Whichever it is, acknowledge the feelings by putting them into words. Try phrases such as “It sounds like you are a little nervous about going to school” or “I see you can’t wait to get started at your school.”
We all respond differently to new situations and being separated from those we are accustomed to, and children are no different. Some walk boldly into school and say, “Bye, Mom,” without looking back. Some hold on tightly. And some let you know their uneasiness by crying. Rest assured they will soon bond with their teachers and look forward to the friendships and learning at school.
You are giving your child a great gift by assuring that s/he receives a high quality preschool education. It is one of the best investments you can make!