“Ready yet?!” As a parent—or caregiver—you will ask that of your child many times over the course of a school year. But let’s go back, back to before they’ve begun class, and really get them ready!
Each Spring, at our Parent Orientation for the upcoming Fall classes, parents would be eager to know what they should do to prepare their child for school. You might be surprised that I didn’t tell them to practice their ABCs or make sure they knew their shapes. No, what I would tell my incoming preschool parents: “It’s all about self-care and self-help skills.”
What do you mean by that? I’ll tell you…
Potty-trained: There are specific requirements that a facility must have for children who are in diapers. Child care centers are equipped to deal with children that aren’t potty-trained. Preschools vary. OF COURSE it’s not unreasonable to expect the occasional accident and anyone who did should be treated with kindness and compassion. I’m talking about routine diaper-wearing. BUT if your child IS toilet-trained allow them to be in charge of their toileting needs. Each year there’d always be a handful of distressed kidlets who would inform me:
“But Mommy always wipes!”
Dressing: Let your child choose what clothes they wear. If allowing them carte blanche over their wardrobe is too much freedom, then lay out several options from which they can pick. They’ll get to practice zipping, snapping, buttoning, putting on their socks and shoes/boots, and putting on their jacket.
Come on, Teacher Karen is this necessary?
Absolutely! They’re working on fine motors skills, eye-hand coordination and spatial awareness not to mention the huge strides in your kidlet’s self-confidence knowing she can get herself dressed for school!
One piece of advice: Be sure they go to school in clothes that can get dirty and are easy to play in. Inevitably every year, there’d be someone—usually a little girl—sent in a party dress, that in the course of a normal day at preschool would:
a. get paint on it
b. spill juice/snack on it
c. not want to go outdoors to play because they ‘might get dirty’
The answer I gave to all of the above: “That’s why we have washing machines!”
This encompasses verbal skills as well as body language(ie, timid as a mouse vs brave as a lion). It’s common for young children learning to speak to have sound errors. It could be problems with articulation (pronouncing ‘wabbit’ for ‘rabbit’) or with phonological processes
(mixing up the hard ‘c’ sound with the ‘t’ sound so instead of ‘cup’ it comes out ‘tup’). By age 8 all children should be able to speak clearly and effectively.
Always address any of your child’s speech and language development concerns with your pediatrician.
BULLYING—it’s been around a long time. No parent wants their child to be the victim of a bully. The best way to protect your child is to empower them! If the concept of bullying is new to your child I’d suggest reading a few good picture books first to introduce the topic. Some good options:
One by Kathryn Otoshi
Pinduli by Janell Cannon
Llama llama and the Bully Goat by Anna Dewdney
Next ROLE PLAY! Create different scenarios and have your child practice how to respond. Some children are naturally more outgoing. Luckily the world needs both extroverts AND introverts! In any and all cases:
DO NOT LABEL YOUR CHILD!
He’s hyperactive She’s got separation anxiety He’s shy
These kidlets are still learning and becoming. Do not give them any idea they can’t go beyond what may initially manifest—they look to their parent(s )for encouragement, reinforcement, support…so be that!
Remind them when meeting new friends to have:
1. Erect posture—feet firmly planted, shoulders squared, head held high…it gives the impression of confidence
2. Direct eye contact—increases the way others view your confidence level
3. Speak up –make your feelings be known without whining or pleading, but in a strong, clear, steady tone
Your child’s body language affects how others see and interact with them. It will also change how they see him/herself. The goal is to have them project confidence, even when they feel insecure or frightened. Just by showing confidence their chance of being singled out and bullied decreases.
Practicing these over the months before preschool begins will help to insure your child will enter preschool on a more solid footing, ready to play (=learn), and make new friends!
“Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver and the other’s gold!”
Did you know this is just part of the lyrics to a song? It’s often song in a round, but the words to the entire song is here!
Yours in Play!