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Tips to prepare your child for school

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Courtesy of LaRue County Education Association

 It is never too early to start providing the kinds of experiences that will help your child enter school ready to succeed. “School readiness” refers to the academic knowledge, independence, communication, and social skills children need to do well in school. Getting your child ready for school requires you to spend time reading, talking and playing with your child. 

Academic readiness

Before entering kindergarten, children should have basic knowledge of themselves, their families, and the world around them. Through play and interactions with caring adults, children can come to school with many skills that teachers can build upon.

To get your child academically ready for school, here are some things that you can do:

• Read to your child daily and talk about what you’ve read.

• Visit the library and check out books and attend story times.

• Sing rhyming songs and do finger plays.

• Put your child’s name on his or her clothing and toys to help him or her recognize the name in print.

• Encourage your child to write his or her name.

• Help your child learn basic colors by pointing and naming objects like “green trees,” “red apples” or blue coats.”

• Give your child puzzles and games that require counting and problem solving.

• Let your child scribble, draw, write, cut and paste.

• Sing the alphabet song with your child and provide letter magnets or other toys that will help him/her begin to recognize the letters of the alphabet.

• Take your child to the zoo, park, grocery store, post office and pet shop.

• Talk about the sights and sounds of your day.

• Make time for your child to sing, dance, climb, jump, run and ride tricycles or bikes.

• Choose childcare that promotes learning with well planned, fun and interesting activities.

Social readiness

Social readiness is as important as academic readiness. Being able to get along with other children, follow directions, take turns and say “good-bye” to parents are skills that kindergarten teachers hope to see from incoming children.

To get your child socially ready for school, here are some things that you can do:

• Set rules and give consequences for breaking them.

• Have regular routines for mealtime and bedtime.

• Encourage your child to play with and talk to other children.

• Encourage your child to take turns and share with other children.

• Encourage your child to finish difficult or frustrating tasks once they have begun them.

• Encourage your child to consider the feelings of others.

• Model and discuss positive ways for your child to express his or her feelings.

• Discourage hitting, biting, screaming and other negative behaviors.

• Kiss and hug your child several times a day.

Independence

When children complete basic self-help tasks such as zipping their coats or tying their shoes, they feel a great sense of pride. Independence builds confidence and self-esteem. In school, children will be expected to do many things on their own. 

To make sure your child is independent in school, here are some things that you can do:

• Buy shoes and clothing that are easy for children to buckle, zip and fasten on their own.

• Let your child get dressed and put on shoes by himself.

• Let your child do simple chores like setting the table at mealtimes or cleaning up toys after playing.

• Encourage independent toileting and hand washing.

• Let your child work independently on activities such as completing puzzles.

Communication skills

Listening and speaking are the first steps to reading and writing in the preschool years. Through conversations with parents, teachers and friends, children learn about the people, places and objects that they will later read and write about. It is through speaking that young children tell us what they know and understand about the world. 

To make sure that your child can communicate his or her thoughts and feelings in school, here are some things that you can do:

• Have regular conversations with your child.

• Encourage your child to listen and respond to others when they speak.

• Answer your child’s questions, even if the answer is “no.”

• Help your child learn and use new words.

• Explore language through singing, rhyming, songs, and chants.

• Model the language you want your child to use.

• Write notes to your child.

• Help your child dictate letters to family and friends.

At any time during the school year, please don’t hesitate to contact your child’s teacher if you have concerns or simply need to know more about what’s going on. Your child’s teacher wants to help both you and your child to make a solid, positive transition into school life.

Courtesy of the LaRue County Education Association in conjunction with the National Education Association