Starting kindergarten is an exciting time for your child and your family. It's a big change to a child's routine and can take a little getting used to. There are a few things you can do to help your pre-schooler prepare for their transition to 'big school'. So, what should you look out for and how can you help?
1. Social Skills- Making new friends and being able to cooperate with others is not only necessary in kindergarten, but a life skill. It's important that your child is able to compromise with other children and understand that there is give and take in every relationship. To help with these skills, integrate opportunities to practise them in everyday experiences such as playing games with friends or siblings. Emphasise social skills such as manners, following directions (playing by the rules can be a tricky one!), turn taking, sharing and listening to others.
2. Self- Regulation- This is the ability to understand and manage your behaviour and reactions. Poor self-regulation may impact your child's ability to maintain friendships and their academic progress. Being able to manage feelings of frustration, anger, embarrassment and excitement is important for the harmony of the classroom and well-being of your child. Arm your child with strategies which help them cheer themselves up when they're feeling down or calm themselves when excited or angry. You can do this through breathing techniques, planning for challenging situations, modelling self-regulation and praising your child when they manage a tricky situation well.
3. Communication- It's important that children are able to understand spoken language (receptive language skills) and use language to communicate with others (expressive language). They need to be able to communicate their needs, wants and ideas, follow instructions and understand vocabulary, questions and basic concepts. Reading aloud together and telling stories will help build vocabulary and understanding. Give your child opportunities to develop their communication skills by talking about their day, making up stories, retelling stories, following and giving directions.
4. Fine Motor- When cutting, writing or opening a lunch box, we use our fine motor skills. Developing these skills in the pre-school years will help your child participate in activities and care for themselves at school. You can provide opportunities to practise fine motor skills by opening and closing lunch boxes and drink bottles, cutting pictures from a magazine, colouring in and playing with Play-Doh.
5. Self-Care- It is important for your child to start to be able to manage their internal and external needs and manage their personal care. To help with this, your child can pack and unpack their bag, take off and put on a jumper or shoes and learn to use a toilet independently. This will help with their confidence and ability to follow instructions and routines at school.
Remember, children develop these skills at different rates and support is available should you have any concerns. Feeling prepared and ready for the experience will help them settle in to new routines more easily which will make life easier for parents too!