How to Build School-Readiness in Your Child

March 14, 2022

Preparing your young child for school consists of more than just learning their letters and numbers. While literacy and numeracy skills are critical for a successful transition to kindergarten, it is just as important for children to develop self-control, build concentration, and understand social cues. While children who participate in preschool activities from full-time daycare to Mother’s Day Out programs learn many of these skills, it is important for parents and caregivers to provide learning opportunities at home. Here are a few things you can do to build school readiness in your child.

1.    Play games that practice self-control: How many times do you remember your own teacher telling your class “Keep your hands to yourself?”  Young children have poorly developed impulse control, and it can be hard not to touch someone else’s hair, poke a friend during storytime, or wiggle when it’s time to be still. A great way to teach self-control is by playing games that require children to take turns to participate. Start with quick and easy games and gradually transition to activities requiring children to wait longer and longer periods between turns. 

2.    Reinforce concentration: Children have trouble processing large amounts of information. It is best to give your child a small set of instructions, and then ask them to repeat the directions back to you. “I want you to empty your cup in the kitchen sink before placing it in the dishwasher. Now, what is the first thing you need to do?” 

Developmentally appropriate games, mazes, and jigsaw puzzles are another way to boost your child’s concentration. Pay less attention to the age recommendations and instead on what your child is actually able to do. This will keep frustration levels down and keep the activity fun and engaging.

3.    Develop self-regulation: Musical games and activities can boost a child’s concentration and self-regulation. Studies suggest that children who participate in music classes and other movement activities have better control over their bodies and emotions than those who don’t. Variations of the “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” game where instructions are frequently changed can help teach your child to pay attention. Common playground games – Red Light, Green Light for example – also help to develop your child’s concentration and listening skills.

4.    Foster emotional intelligence: A child who can read social cues and control their emotions are less likely to have meltdowns at school in front of their classmates. Teach your child how to convey emotion in a healthy way by building problem-solving skills, validating feelings, and teaching coping skills when emotions are strong.

5.    Encourage Reading EVERY DAY: The number one skill a child should develop before kindergarten is early literacy. Read to your child. Let your child describe a book’s illustrations to you. Let your child see you read for pleasure. Reading develops communication skills, enhances vocabulary, and builds curiosity in your child.

To learn more ways to build school-readiness skills in your child, register for a Smart Start Early Birds class. Early Birds teaches parents and caregivers how to prepare their children for success in school and in life. Classes are available for various developmental stages and are free. Visit Early Birds to learn more.

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