Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Monday, January 30, 2012

How to get your child ready for school

There comes a time when every child needs to get ready to enter the school system. It can be a daunting and emotional experience for many parents since their child will always be thought of as being 'their baby'. Remember, though, that going away to school will be an equally frightening experience for them, too. Here, we will look at some tips to nurture your little one into being school ready.

Skills Your Child Will Need

Kindergarten has changed a lot since parents were in school. Back then, days were shorter (a maximum of 3 hours) and there was a stronger emphasis on developing social skills. Nowadays, parents can expect a full day's worth of activities (up to 6 hours) including writing, reading and seat work designed to improve concentration, attention and other skills. These changes mean there are a lot more skills your child needs before starting school. These include:

  • Motor skills such as throwing a ball, cutting, walking in a straight line and coloring. 
  • Being emotionally and socially ready -- kids need to be able to work in groups and accept the teacher as an authority figure. 
  • Being intellectually and cognitively ready -- your child needs to understand numbers, shapes, colors, understand similarities and opposites, and answer simple questions about his/her environment. 
  • Curiosity -- your child needs to be eager to learn and investigate the world. They need to think independently and ask questions.

How Parents Can Improve these Skills

  • It is important to make sure that the preschool or day care center is ideal for your child. Make sure you choose an environment which builds the skills needed for school, encourages curiosity and teaches learning in a fun and supportive way. 
  • Ensure the preschool is fully licensed, has a low child-to-teacher ratio so they receive a lot of attention, is open to visits from parents, and has experienced and educated teachers. 
  • Cut down on TV and video games. Take an interest in sports with your child and encourage them to be active. This will improve their motor skills and make them healthier, too. 
  • Create family nights and include activities such as playing board or puzzle games to develop team-building skills and nurture cognitive skills. 
  • Take advantage of municipal libraries. They have a great selection of books you can borrow. Make reading fun and ask your child questions to build their self-esteem and curiousity. Ask 'What is that?' and 'What do they do?'. 
  • Be a good role model. If you are shy, for instance, pluck up the courage to talk to other kids' at the park or preschool. Show your child that it's okay to be friendly towards other people and how easy it is to make new friends. 
  • Talk to your child. Nothing will encourage their language skills more than actually talking to them. 
  • Ask relatives to buy fun and creative presents for birthdays and holidays. 
  • Eat healthily. A good diet is essential for growing kids. Keep junk food to a minimum and ensure there are plenty of fruits, vegetables and proteins at mealtimes.

What to Avoid

It is crucial to remember that every child is different. Everyone learns at different rates and are stronger in some areas than in others. Not every child will be good at sports, for example. Be patient and encourage them. Don't shout or talk down to them.

This guest post was written by Claire Hodge, a mom of two and writer for AuPair.org.


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