The term “School Readiness” gets thrown around liberally after your child turns three. Some preschools or early learning centre might have you believe your children will magically “get ready” for school in a month-long programme. This simply isn’t true. School readiness is just one part of your children’s learning journey and it takes time to instil the skills needed to prosper.
What primary school teachers expect from School Readiness
While pencil grip, letter recognition and numeracy skills are all important parts of the school readiness checklist, teachers say that what children really needs to thrive in a school environment are communication skills and social and emotional resilience. Starting big school means that a child’s whole life will be turned upside down. Instead of having multiple educators, suddenly there will only be one. More desk time is expected and less time in the playground. Lunches now come in lunch boxes and not on plates. It really is a whole new world and it’s crucial that your Champ knows how to take these changes in stride.
Building communication skills in preschool
Children and adults constantly work on their communication skills. As time goes on, your Champs will need to learn to concentrate for longer periods of time, follow instructions and be able to initiate and hold conversations. These skills are paramount for children to be able to extract meaning from their lessons.
You can improve your Champs’ communication skills by:
- Encouraging your Champs to ask questions. Inquisitive children can derive meaning from their surroundings. Not only will this help them to understand more about the world around them, but it will also teach them to communicate their thoughts.
- Have conversations with your Champs. By talking about their day, parents are strengthening their children’s memory recall and teaching narrative structure at the same time.
- Ask your Champs to tell you a story. Narrative structure is a fantastic way for young children to learn to arrange their thoughts. By asking them to identify key points, children are surmising their story and assigning meaning, which makes this one of the most important school readiness activities.
Strengthening your Champ’s social and emotional confidence
Children gain confidence when they’re allowed to do things on their own. Independent children adjust to new expectations quickly which will help their transition to preschool or to big school.
In order to encourage your Champs’ independence you can:
- Encourage them to carry their bag to and from MindChamps every day.
- Let them dress themselves! Children feel accomplished when buttoning a shirt by themselves so remember that it doesn’t matter if a few get missed on the way.
- When it’s time, guide your Champs to toilet independently. Toilet training is a big step which only gets bigger as children move between rooms and eventually to school. Most preschools and early learning centres have open plan bathrooms for supervision and toilet training purposes, but in school (and beyond) this is rarely the case. One way you can start to prepare your Champs is by talking about these differences, another very important school readiness activity.
- Make your Champs responsible for their belongings. Hats, water bottles and socks are small items to us but huge to children. Giving responsibility to children shows that you trust them! Trusting your Champs with their belongings demonstrates that YOU have confidence in THEM! Nothing boosts confidence like having your work acknowledged.
School Readiness as emotional wellbeing
Managing emotions is part of adjusting to a new environment. Your Champs won’t be able to engage in any learning when upset or frustrated. Teaching children to identify and regulate emotions will make their transitions smoother.
This is important because if they can’t do that they will have difficulties connecting with other children, which can lead to them becoming isolated. That kind of outcome can have raise not just the child’s but also their parents’ and their teachers stress and anxiety. Additionally, this can also impair children’s learning abilities and the gap between them and their peers will only grow. So do try and be through with your school readiness checklist and try to cover as much as you can as thoroughly as you can because they only start going to school once.
Fortunately, you can do a lot to nurture your Champs’ emotional wellbeing by:
- Acknowledging their emotions. Try saying, “I understand that you feel sad but what can we do that will make you feel happy again?” Through this your Champs will identify emotions and learn techniques to manage these feelings in the future.
- Encouraging empathy for their peers and teachers.
- Support their problem solving and conflict resolution skills. If your Champs can negotiate a game with their friends, then overcoming small issues throughout the day will be a breeze.
Our expert educators at MindChamps Early Learning & Preschool make sure that through our programmes every child becomes ready for big school and for life. Join us at our Ready for School Sessions with guest speaker Brian Caswell to learn more about school readiness at MindChamps.