You have been looking forward to your child’s first day of pre-school. Amidst your excitement at the thought of your little one starting his/her learning journey, another part of you can’t help but worry that he/she may not have the necessary skills to learn and play alongside other children of the same age.
But early childhood experts have conferred that pre-schoolers do not need to know everything before taking this big step – they just need to be ready and keen to build and develop new skills.
Nancy Hertzog, the author of Ready for Preschool: Prepare Your Child for Happiness and Success at School, mentions that being prepared for school is a combination of being capable of learning reading and writing skills, as well as having the basic physical and social skills that were been formed during the early years.
If you are still having doubts about your child’s readiness for pre-school, you can step in to help by doing these things:
1. Teach him/her to communicate
When your child talks and listens to what you say, he/she is working on his/her language skills – and it is the combination of these skills that will shape your child’s success in school. You can help to expand your children’s vocabulary by introducing new words and expressions, and having regular conversations with them.
Dr Rebecca Palacios, Senior Curriculum Advisor for ABCmouse.com, a subscription-based online education programme for 2- to 7-year-olds, says that teachable moments come from the child’s own observations or from things they are interested in because children are naturally excited and curious to learn at this stage. “The trick is to be aware that [although] the things we see and do as we go through our day may seem mundane to us, to our children they are wonders,” she explained.
2. Encourage independence
Like adults, children learn from their successes as well as their mistakes. So, here’s a note to remind you not to rush to your child’s rescue whenever they encounter a challenging situation.
“Socially adept children learn from parents who have confidence in their child’s ability to soothe themselves in a difficult situation and make appropriate choices when allowed to or, at the very least, learn and grow from their mistakes,” shares Grace Geller, pre-school director of A Children’s Carousel in Weston, Florida.
Geller recommends that we encourage our children to master basic self-care skills such as hand washing, nose wiping, opening lunch boxes, zipping a backpack and covering their mouth when coughing and sneezing. Depending on your children’s age, you might also want to teach them to dress themselves in the morning, but be prepared to offer assistance at the beginning.
3. Organise and tidy up
One of the things which children are expected to do frequently in pre-school is to tidy up after each activity. You can start practicing this at home by teaching your child the art of being organised. After a play session, tell your child that it is time to clean up and show him/her where each item should be kept. Make it fun by singing a clean-up song and work with him/her on how to keep clothes, toys and art materials organised.
Once your child gets the hang of it, allow him/her to clean up on his/her own. Make sure to be generous with your praises when he/she does it well.
4. Develop social skills
Social skills are necessary for pre-school, and this includes the ability to share, take turns, play with (or alongside) peers and participate in pretend play. The best way for your child to learn these skills is while he/she is interacting with other children, so make sure to give him/her plenty of opportunities to go on play dates before starting pre-school.
After spending all their time with you at home, your children need to get used to the idea of being away from you during their day at pre-school. Go to the next page to find out how you can help them cope.