You might be getting ready for all of the buying that you have to do get make sure that your child has everything they need to make it through their first year of school. However, are you also putting in the necessary prep work to make sure that they’re able to handle it, as well? The first day of school is a rather unpredictable one for parents. Kids crying, throwing tantrums, or otherwise having trouble adjusting isn’t uncommon. However, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a lot that you can do to help them embrace their new school life.
Read, read, and read
One of the single best steps you can take towards bettering a child’s education, at any level, is to get them into reading. If you’re starting early, this means reading children’s books with them. Start with early years books, using the pictures provided in the pages to help them associate them with the words that you are saying. Before they start grasping the letters, they’ll grasp the meaning of the words. As they get more used to different words and sounds, that’s when you start paying attention to the letters and the sounds that they make. Teaching them letters outside of reading with a letter-per-day strategy can help, too, but it might take them a while to grasp that.
Start them learning about numbers early
Aside from the language skills mentioned above, the one hard skill that you should already ensure that your kids have a grasp of is numbers and math. They might not be able to rattle off the times’ table, but the preschool math skills that they should have some understanding of should include numbers and counting, which you can help with by forming lessons around counting physical objects. These same objects can be used to show the basis of addition and subtraction, (though you should use more easily understandable language like “adding up” and “taking away” to make them easier to digest.) Using light mathematical terms in real life to help them get an idea of number sense is crucial, as well.
Help them express themselves
It’s not just their hard skills that are going to get tested in the school environment. They’re also going to need to be able to exercise skills that can help them better engage with the teacher, their fellow students, and their learning environment. As such, working on their speaking skills with them is vital. There are plenty of ways to work on your child’s communication skills. A lot of parents, when trying to help children communicate, will complete their sentences for them. However, it’s a good idea to give them more time to process what they want to say when they start talking. You should also ensure that you don’t demand they speak correctly too often. Many children struggle with sounds they won’t be able to say more confidently until they are older.
Visit the school ahead of time
School can feel like a brand new, alien environment to your children. Even if literally everything there is designed to offer them a safe and comfortable place to learn, it can still be pretty scary. To that end, you should take what opportunity you can to visit the school ahead of time. It might be that there is an open day that you can attend, or you can take them in to meet their teacher ahead of time. More and more schools and making such pre-first day visits with the parents a part of every child’s first school year so they have some time to get used to the environment.
Socialize them with other children
Of course, it’s not just the school that you should help them get used to. One of the biggest changes in their new environment will be that they’re spending their day surrounded by children. Finding an opportunity to socialize with other children is vital. Not only can it help them feel less nervous when they arrive, but they might have already developed the skills they need to make friends more easily. Having friends at school is naturally going to make it easier to convince them to keep going. You can help your preschooler with social development by taking them to social and creative clubs in the area, whether it’s an art club, reading club, or just somewhere they can meet and play with other children.
Get them used to the new schedule
School isn’t just going to introduce new challenges to their skills, it’s going to affect their entire week schedule. To that end, you should make sure that you have arranged for a complete morning routine, including time to wake up properly, use the restroom, get breakfast, and more. You should start getting your child used to that schedule ahead of school. This way, the process of getting ready for school can feel much like another day, removing some of the anxiety that can come with it. Not to mention the trouble that kids can have starting their morning properly for some time.
Take the fear out of failure
The school can feel like a pretty high-pressure environment for the average child. They are going to have some demands made of them (even in a gentle, low-stakes manner) and this can get them on the defensive. The fear of failure and consequences can hinder them from developing and growing much more than any amount of failures. As such, make sure that you teach them about failure and how it’s just a step on the way to success. When you’re doing any home lessons, make sure to treat any incorrect answers with grace and room for correction. It’s just as important not to over-praise your child as they might overly crave that sensation when answering questions and not react well when they don’t get it.
Eventually, like everything else, school life will become a habit, become routine. However, there are ways you can make that routine better for your child’s education and development. Getting a good start with the tips above can help with that.