The signs are starting to come up and parents are thinking about it. Children are becoming excited about this next step: It’s off to kindergarten.
Not all children will begin school ready to learn. Even if you read to your child every day before school began, it is not enough. There is such a thing as called social and emotional preparation for school — social and emotional qualities that you need to help your child develop. What are these qualities?
Your child needs to feel good about himself. He needs to believe he can succeed in school. This confidence helps him to be more willing to try new things and to master new tasks. It also teaches him that if does not succeed on the first try, he needs to try again.
It is very important that your child wants to learn. When he sees your enthusiasm about his learning, it motivates him to try harder and work harder.
Your child must learn to do things by himself. On some things your child needs help on completing a project. But on many others he needs to struggle and learn to do them on his own. Getting dressed and putting toys away are ways to encourage independence.
Teaching your child to finish what he starts is an important trait for him to learn. Your encouragement makes a big difference.
If you want your child to be excited about learning, you can help. Children are naturally curious, so encourage this trait in whatever way you can.
Children need to be able to get along with others and learn to share and take turns. Playing together is a skill each child needs. You can help when you teach him how to play a game where each person takes his turn.
Learning to express anger in a good way is a skill children must learn. Your child needs to learn that behavior like hitting or biting are not acceptable. Your child needs practice in learning how to control his angry feelings.
Children need to understand other children and even adults. Be sure to talk with your child about how others might feel. Read a story that talks about difficult situations for a child and ask your child how he thinks the child can handle the problems. Model a positive way to treat others with respect and your child will probably do it, too.
There are many ways you can help your child develop these qualities. Make sure you give your baby or toddler plenty of attention, encouragement, hugs and lap time. Children who feel loved are most likely to be confident.
Set a good example. When you treat others with respect, your child watches and ultimately imitates. If you share things with other people, your child also learns to be thoughtful of the feelings of others.
Listen to your child. This will tell you if your child needs special help and support.
Praise your child when he has done a job well. This encourages your child much more than harsh punishments.
When you are excited about starting school, your child is more likely to be excited too. Talk with him about school and about the exciting things he will be doing such as making art project, playing games, and teaching him how to read and how to measure and count things.
You being excited about him going to school is most likely to encourage him being equally excited.
Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and former executive director of Parenting Matters Foundation, which publishes newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents. For more information, email to email@example.com or call 360-681-2250.