Your preschooler’s entry into big school marks a turning point in both your lives. This signals your child’s first steps towards growing up. A mix of excitement and anxiety wells up inside you as you wonder how your child will fare in this new environment. Is your child ready skills-wise, you may ask. Parents with older children have horror stories about how their child was expected to already know how to write, identify all letters and numbers, and even read before entering big school. While big school teachers would appreciate that children come in already able to recognize and identify some letters and numbers, this is not their primary concern. There are other essential skills that may seem insignificant, but are actually as important (or even more so) than academic skills. Below are some of the skills that parents can help develop in their preschoolers before entering big school:
Independence (being left alone) Developing self-help skills in a child is important before entering big school, but is often overlooked by parents because it becomes very easy to do things for your child. In big school, the teacher or teacher aide may not have the time to do this. Give your child ample opportunities at home to practice independence by packing away his toys after playing, throwing trash in the garbage, putting on his own clothes, sitting down at the table and feeding himself, and going to the toilet and washing his hands on his own.
Communication and the ability to listen and follow directions A child who can express himself verbally will tend to fare better in big school because he will be able to articulate his needs and wants readily, answer questions, make guesses, offer insight, and share experiences. Along with being able to communicate verbally, your child should also be able to listen and follow simple directions. Since directions will usually be given verbally, it is crucial that your child knows what the words mean and how they are used in context so that she will know what to do. To be able to listen, your child also needs to be able to stay still and focus. A great way to help your preschooler build his vocabulary, foster listening skills, and increase attention span is by reading a lot of books with him, singing songs and chants together, helping him label things he sees when you’re riding in the car or taking a walk, and encouraging him to use his own words when he needs something or wants to go somewhere.
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