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Skills for School: How Parents Can Help Kids Arrive Ready and Eager to Learn!

 

 

Children are born with the remarkable ability to learn! But readiness for the school environment, which is a structured and curriculum-based setting, requires certain foundational skills in the following areas: social/emotional, communication, literacy, cognition, and motor.

 

Why is school readiness important? According to research compiled by UNICEF, school readiness is linked to higher academic achievement, improved engagement and lower school dropout rates.  Read on to find out how you can help your child get ready for school!

 

Social/Emotional Skills:

When children feel excited and comfortable about the idea of starting school, the transition to the classroom can be easier. It’s helpful for kids to know what school will be like and how to get along with others. In addition, children benefit from being comfortable trying new things and learning to persevere in the face of a challenge.  To promote the development of social/emotional skills, you can:

  • Share in the excitement about starting school

  • Take your child to visit the classroom before the first day

  • Participate in pretend play about school

  • Teach sharing, waiting, and turn-taking

  • Demonstrate how to make new friends

  • Teach words to describe feelings (e.g., mad, happy, frustrated)

  • Encourage attention to tasks and eye contact when talking

  • Demonstrate step-by-step learning

  • Dialogue with your child about how mistakes are part of learning

  • Encourage self-expression through art, music and play

  • Demonstrate compassion and understanding of others

  • Play games where your child is expected to follow the rules and comply with behaviour expectations

 

Communication Skills:

In order to navigate learning, play and socialization in the classroom, children need to be able to understand others, communicate their ideas and ask questions.  To cultivate age-expected communication skills, you can:

  • Talk about what you are doing during everyday tasks like cooking, shopping and cleaning

  • Use questions that keep the conversation going and avoid an over reliance on questions that can be answered with “yes” and “no”

  • Help with learning new words by placing emphasis on key words

  • Model correct grammar when your child says a sentence incorrectly

  • Expand on what your child is saying by adding additional information (e.g., “That’s right- it is a big red truck. The HUGE red truck is speeding by!”

  • Build vocabulary by using specific words instead of general words like “this,” “there,” and “it”

  • Prioritize play time with your child and add language to the interaction

 

Literacy (Reading & Writing) Skills:

For a successful transition to classroom learning, children need to be familiar with words, letters, and books.  To foster early literacy skills, parents can:

  • Point out letters and the sounds they make

  • Point out signs and labels in the community

  • Read books daily

  • Ask questions about stories to help with understanding

  • Sing songs and say rhymes

  • Point out shapes and colours in books, during play and when exploring outside

  • Have paper and crayons/markers/pencils available for children to draw and write

 

Cognitive Skills:

In order to be successful in the classroom, children also need to attend, apply their memory to learn new skills, and reason through new situations. They need to be able to follow a routine as well as have a grasp of certain age-appropriate concepts.  Help your child sharpen these skills by doing some of the following:

  • Following a routine at home

  • Encouraging your child to play with one thing at a time, then clean up before moving to the next activity

  • Limiting distractions during play time to help you child developed focused attention (turn off the TV during play and mealtimes)

  • Sorting objects by size, shape, colour, category

  • Promoting an awareness of time concepts (yesterday, tomorrow, before, after)

  • Playing counting games

  • Demonstrating how numbers are used at home and in the community

  • Talking about and demonstrating basic concepts throughout the day: wet/dry, long/short, full/empty, etc.

 

Fine and Gross Motor Skills:

We will defer to our occupational therapist (OT) friends on this one. But we do know that some of the following skills are important for children in order to be kindergarten ready:

  • Dressing and toileting independently

  • Feeding independently (using a fork and spoon)

  • Printing some letters and colouring simple shapes

  • Being able to run, jump, climb with his/her peers

 

The first day of school is often met with a variety of emotions – excitement, nervousness and fear of the unknown - for both parents and children. That said, if your child has the necessary tools and skills, Kindergarten will be a wonderful place for him/her to thrive! So take a deep breath, relax, and know that you have prepped your child well. And if you are wondering if your child could use some extra support before beginning kindergarten, call us to book an assessment!

 

 

As always, reach out to us with any questions!

 

Chat soon,

 

Jill and Stephanie

Registered Speech-Language Pathologists

Aurora Speech Clinic

(905) 503-4321

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February 4, 2020

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