Kindergarten is full of new experiences and challenges. As grown-ups in our little ones lives, we can help prepare them for this transition. In part 1 of this series, we discussed emotional readiness for the incoming kindergartener. Part 2 will answer the question “How do we prepare our children socially to enter school?”, also known as social readiness. Although these questions and answers can be debatable, all kindergarten teachers hope their students are socially ready BEFORE they enter the classroom.
Can your child communicate their needs and wants effectively? Do they need interpretation of their words? These are questions that need to be addressed before coming to school. Your child needs to be able to verbalize their needs, wants, and thoughts. A teacher cannot interpret your child’s pet words for everyday items. As the adult, you must teach your little one the correct names for things they will be coming in contact with. Example would be “I want my wa wa”–what is wa wa? Teach your child to ask for water not wa wa! Instruct your soon to be kindergartener on clearly stating what they need and want. This will save a lot of heartache for both the teacher and child.
Interactions With Others
Does your child play well with others? Are they bossy? Will they take turns and share? These are all social skills that must be addressed and work on prior to entering school. Having playdates with other children helps develop these social skills. Bringing your child’s own toys to the play dates help with sharing and taking turns with something that is their personal property.
Make sure your child is not bossy!! Being strong-willed and assertive can be an asset as they get older. But as a kindergartener, most of the time being a boss over someone else is a recipe for disaster. Even young children do not want to be bossed around by their peers. Click here for a great book from Amazon on bossiness to read to your child Mean Jean The Recess Queen.
Curiosity and Interest in Activities
Most young children are curious and interested in their surroundings. But will your child sit and listen as a new adult gives instruction about these new ideas, things, activities and surroundings? Going to museums, zoos, community centers for organized activities enables your young student to take instruction from another adult and allows them to express their curiosity and interest within a learning environment. This goes a long way in preparing your youngster for school.
Sitting still and paying attention to other adults is sometimes very difficult for new students. Preparing your child for this eventuality when school starts is a must. It is very distracting and disruptive when one or more children cannot sit for any length of time. Reading to your child enables him/her to listen and pay attention all while sitting quietly. Going to library reading programs teaches and reinforces the concept of paying attention to an adult.
Has your child been around other kids? Since the beginning of quarantine with the pandemic, a lot of children had to stay home and not go to daycare/preschool thus limiting social interaction with other kids their own age. This can create a huge limitation for your little one. Expose the soon to be kindergartener to as many children as possible in the time left before school starts. This will help with interactions, sharing, making friends easier, and help create a cooperative classroom environment without fearing meeting new faces.
If you have socialized your child with other children, adults, and unfamiliar people, your little one will have a much easier and smoother time of entering the kindergarten classroom. This will set the stage for the new academic year. If you and your kindergartener has a rough few days and bumpy start to the school year, that does not mean it will remain so. Teachers and school staff will continue to help with this major transition in your kiddo life. It will be an adjustment for the whole family.
Just remember: Be positive and encouraging to your new kindergartener and continue to reinforce good social skills at home.