3 ways to tell if your child is socially & emotionally ready for the next step
Kindergarten readiness doesn’t begin in preschool or even the summer before starting school. As parents and caregivers, you have helped your child prepare for the transition into school from the moment they were born. The games you play, conversations you have, and questions you answer have all had an impact. Here are three more ways to support your child’s social and emotional development before sending them to kindergarten. You may be surprised to find that you are already doing many of these things at home.
Children are naturally self-centered. As they grow, they begin to notice things, people and emotions around them and they learn that different situations require different reactions. While most 5-year-olds know that they need to take turns and share, they really don’t want to because it doesn’t meet their needs. Developing empathy and being able to see another person’s point of view is a departure from self-centeredness and can be practiced at home. Parents will naturally model empathy for their children. Keep it up! It really does make a difference.
Ideas to try:
Communicating needs can happen in a variety of ways in a kindergarten classroom. First and foremost, your child will need to be able to communicate basic needs to their teacher. They need to know that it’s ok to ask to use the bathroom, tell the teacher if they are not feeling well, or even ask for help if they aren’t sure about something. Some kids can do this easily, but others need a little extra boost in self-confidence to make that jump.
Being able to communicate needs to a friend or classmate is also essential but can be a challenge for young children. It can mean the difference fighting over a block and agreeing to work together to build something.
Learning to communicate needs takes practice, but there are many things you can do at home to help. Talk often with your child about your feelings, your child’s feelings, their friends’ feelings and how to best handle situations.
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Following adult rules, even if they don’t want to, can be a challenge for kids in the classroom. Kids need lots of practice and situations that help them learn to follow directions of other adults. For this, I can’t even begin to say enough about the importance of a good preschool or pre-K program. Preschool and pre-K allow children to become more independent. It’s a time to explore new ideas and curriculum, play and have fun, expand friendships, and learn to interact with adults other than family members. A quality early childhood program will help set the stage for years to come.
Beyond preschool, there are other things you can do at home to provide practice with these skills.
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I always tell parents that they are their child’s first and best teacher. The example parents set for kids will set the tone for behavior, expectations and interactions. The opportunities that parents set up for kids will also prepare them for the social and emotional interactions that will come along in kindergarten. Conversations, questions, playtime with friends, and role play on a regular basis will help prepare young children for the challenges ahead of them. Kindergarten is an exciting time and you can help your child prepare socially and emotionally by practicing and playing in these ways.