Getting Ready for School
How Parents Can Prepare their Kids for Preschool and Kindergarten
Dec 4, 2008 Wei Yin Wong
Most children are drawn to new playmates and toys. Not surprisingly, many will find the idea of going to preschool or kindergarten appealing since both are homes to many toys and are frequently visited by little people. They probably look forward to starting school.
Still, preparing children for school is crucial to let them have some idea of what school is about. Here are some tips for mums and dads before sending their kids to preschool or kindergarten for the first time.
Visiting the School
If a child has never set foot in a preschool or kindergarten, his first visit during an information session or open day will offer a great experience. Show him around – the classroom, music room, playground, sandpit, etc – and introduce him to some of the teachers. Even a really shy child will be drawn by the set-up, play things and colors in the school. This initial visit will give him a clear picture of what he’ll be able to experience when he starts school.
Practising at Home
Going to school does require the child to be independent to a certain extent. That means he should’ve been completely toilet-trained, can open and close his lunch box, as well as wear and take off his shoes. If shoes with laces are tricky, opt for those with Velcro straps. Get the child to practise using these items.
Getting into a Routine
School life is all about following routines, a concept alien to young children. So slowly introduce routines at home as well, writes Kelly Baker in the article “Cool for School” that appears in the February/March 2008 issue of Australian Parents. For instance, at 10.30am during morning tea, state the time clearly to the child and say it’s time for morning tea. At 12.30pm, point out the time to the child and announce that it’s lunch time. At 2pm, tell him the time and say that it’s nap time. Keep doing this everyday until the child understands that certain things take place as certain times of the day.
Using Preschool Kits
Preschool kits containing games, puzzles, stories and various activities for kids as well as information for parents are available at bookshops. Consider getting one of these kits to keep the children occupied and prepare them for school.
Buying New Gear
While there is nothing wrong with using an older sibling’s old backpack or water bottle to save money, it’s always better to at least get a few new items for the child. Buy him some new clothes, a new bag, pencil case, stationery set, books, etc, if money is not a big problem. The hand-me-downs can be used as spares. With new things, the child is likely to be much more excited about going to school. Let him try wearing his new clothes and backpack with all the new gear inside and pretend that he is going to school. He’s bound to be beaming happily when doing that!
Letting the Child Make Minor Decisions
Children will need to make some decisions of their own at school. And with Mum not being around, making a decision can be a big challenge for a small kid. That’s why it’s important to practise making decisions at home. Arlene Eisenberg, co-author of What to Expect, the Toddler Years [HarperCollins, 1995], says, “Provide practice by giving your toddler choices whenever possible.”
Practising Following Multiple Instructions
At school, the teacher may give several instructions at one go. She may say, “Hang your bags up, go inside the playroom and sit on the floor.” Without practice, a child may get confused and only complete half of the tasks. So try giving the child multiple instructions at home for him to get used to them when he begins school.
Starting school is a big step for a young child. If he has a great initial experience at preschool or kindergarten, the rest of the year will be stress-free both the child and his parents. School readiness begins at home. So get him to practise many of the things he will eventually experience at school. The efforts are definitely worthwhile.
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