Walking your child into school on their first day of kindergarten can be an emotional experience for both you and your son or daughter. A wide range of emotions from fear and apprehension to excitement and anticipation are common. Very quickly, however, the time will come for you to give one last kiss and a hug, trust that you have done enough to prepare your child for this new adventure, and walk away. You may only be apart for a short time, but that first separation can feel monumental. The good news is that with the right preparation most children are ready and able to face this next important step in their lives. In fact, the most important work you do to make your child’s first day in kindergarten, and each day thereafter, successful may actually happen at home in the months and years previous to that first day of school.
1- READ, READ, READ
Teachers and experts agree that the most important thing you can do to prepare your child for kindergarten is to read to them. Numerous studies have demonstrated that young children that are frequently read to excel more readily in all aspects of formal education. Reading with your child teaches a number of different skills that are essential for school success. It teaches sentence structure and how words can be put together to create stories and ideas. Reading teaches basic speech skills and a greater mastery of the language. Furthermore, reading can teach logical thinking skills as children learn to guess what will happen next in a story and grasp new and abstract concepts.
The time spent in reading to your child is also instrumental in teaching important personal skills. Reading together can help a child learn to concentrate. It can be very difficult for young children to sit still for even a few seconds at a time. By making reading fun and capturing their attention, however, you may find that they are able to sit and listen for longer stretches of time. As they become engrossed in the stories you are telling, they are also being exposed to new ideas and experiences that may help them to build confidence in trying new things. Last but not least, reading together can help to build a stronger bond between you and your child which can be beneficial to you both for years to come.
2- Let Your Child Play
Helping your child to build a healthy imagination may actually be a key aspect of preparing for academic success. In fact, more and more research has been performed that has shown that play is vital for developing key cognitive and social skills. Play helps to teach memory, language skills, and self regulation. It has even been associated with greater levels of school adjustment. Therefore, don’t think of play time as wasted time. Unstructured play may be just as important to your child’s school success as more controlled learning experiences.
3- Work on the Basics
There are certain basic skills that are important for children to have at least a fundamental understanding of before entering kindergarten. Help your child grasp the basic concepts of letters, numbers, colors, and shapes. The greater the understanding and knowledge your child has of these concepts, the better. Not only will it help your child progress more quickly in school but it can help to build academic confidence.
Teaching letters, numbers, colors, and shapes can become a natural part of your daily interactions. For example, when you are at the grocery store, let your child point out colors or letters on the products. Have your child count items as you place them in your cart. Make a game of looking for a particular shape as you wander the aisles. The more interactive and fun the learning is, the more your child is likely to want to do it again.
4- Craft Time
Your child’s school experience will also involve much more than just reading and writing. Children are also often expected to participate in activities that require a lot of hand-eye coordination. If a child has never had to manipulate a pair of scissors before their first day of kindergarten, they are sure to feel frustrated. Set your child up for success by pulling out the craft supplies and letting your child work with a variety of tools such as scissors, hole punches, markers, crayons, string, and glue. Not only will this help to teach dexterity but it can foster creative thinking.
5- Don’t Hover
One of the most difficult aspects of kindergarten for many children is the separation from their parents. As much as you may want your child to love and miss you while they are away, it is essential to their success that they feel confidence in doing things on their own. To determine how prepared your child is for the upcoming separation, watch how often you rush in to fix problems when they arise. If you find yourself constantly solving problems for your child, make a conscious decision to avoid hovering. For example, let your child dress himself. If he gets stuck trying to push a button through or pull up a zipper, let him struggle for a few minutes before rushing in to do it for him. Your child needs to believe that he can solve problems on his own, without your help, to feel secure in being away from you for even short periods of time.
6- Get Involved In Play Groups
Friendships are a vital part of any school experience. Prepare your child for social success by letting them practice making and cooperating with new friends. Look for opportunities at the park and in your neighborhood for your child to safely initiate social interactions. Invite friends over to play and stay ready to help your child learn to share and take turns. Play games where children learn to follow directions such as follow the leader and mother-may-I. Once you are well acquainted and comfortable with another child’s family, let your child spent time at a friend’s house when you are not there. Even short periods of separation can foster independence and confidence.
7- Visit a School
Finally, help your child become familiar with an academic setting by visiting a school in your area. If at all possible, visiting the actual school your child will be attending is preferable. Children may have inaccurate ideas about what school is like. By letting your child walk the halls of the school, sit in the desks, look at artwork and displays, and even meet the teachers, your child may find many fears and misconceptions finally put to rest.
Once you have spent the time and effort preparing your child for school, your last step is to help your child get excited. Your own personal attitude will have a huge impact upon how your child feels about the upcoming experiences. Try to avoid saying anything negative about school and avoid sharing bad experiences you may have had as a child. Talk frequently about how much fun school will be and the exciting new things your child will get to learn and experience. This enthusiasm will be contagious and can help to temper the nervousness your child will undoubtedly feel upon walking into kindergarten for the first time. With this preparation, when the time comes to finally walk away and leave your child in the classroom, you can feel reassured that your child is ready and prepared to face this new adventure.
School Tutoring Academy offers tutoring for children as young as Pre-K and Kindergarten. If working with your child at home has you stressed, there is help.