After researching for a speaking engagement at the Michigan Reading Association this year, I wanted to give readers advice on how they can help prepare their children for school. There are simple things that can be done at home that will make your child’s school experience a more positive one. I’ve asked teacher bloggers to be guests on this site, Be The Difference, to share their insights with you over the next 6 weeks! I am so thankful for their expertise.
It is a normal question for a parent to ask how they can best prepare their child to succeed in school. What do they need to know? What do they need to be able to do? My name is Sarah from Mrs. B’s First Grade and I am happy to be guest blogging today to give you my best tips on this important subject!
Early Childhood Education is my passion. It was my college major and I have spent the past eleven years teaching kindergarten and first grade. From the many students that have walked through my classroom door, I have concluded that there are three important categories that students need to be prepared in to help them to succeed in the classroom. Those categories include personal needs, social skills, and academic skills!
Children transitioning from having an adult help them at all times to entering a classroom with more children than adults must have preparation with personal needs skills. These skills are as simple as being able to put on and take off their coat, button or zip clothing, and use the toilet on their own. Another area is knowing the proper way to cough/sneeze and use a tissue. Teachers love when students come in with this knowledge!
Social skills is perhaps the most important category. Strong social skills can lead to academic success. Being curious about learning can lead to seeking out experience that help them to blossom as a learner! When children start school they are expected to understand how to listen to an adult and follow simple one and two step directions. Early Childhood Teachers understand that children have short attention spans, but students need to be able to sit for short periods of time.
Getting along with other children and forming peer relationships is very important. Knowing how to take turns and share while playing in a group activity is a large part of their day. Having experience in this prior to school helps them to get off to a good start. On the other side of this, knowing how and when to contact an adult for help and how to be a problem solver helps them to feel safe and secure in their new environment.
Academic skills may be the area that parents worry about the most. Every parent wants their child to flourish in school and be able to keep up with his/her peers. There are some simple ways that you can work on academic skills before school starting that can help foster a love for learning.
To prepare your child for what they will work on in reading and writing, one of the best things you can do is read every day! Have several books for your child to look at, pretend read, read with you, and search through. While reading you can look for alphabet letters, talk about letter sounds, simple sight words such as the and go, and talk about what is happening in the story. Children pick up SO much from this and from listening to the expression and fluency with which you read. Encouraging your child to write and draw about what you are reading is an added bonus. When they do this you can also take some time to practice writing their name!
Preparing for math can be as simple as knowing shapes, colors, and sizes. Being able to count to 20 and recognizing numerals to ten will help as they begin to learn basic math. In addition, being able to create and name simple patterns and duplicate them is an important skill. Involve your child in authentic math learning. Talk to them about how you are reading the time and counting your change out while paying at the store. Children pick up on everything!
Focusing on these three areas are wonderful ways to help your child get off to a good start. In addition to this, my other recommendation would be to talk about school in a positive way. You are your child’s role model and they pick up when you are nervous about something or when you feel confident. Help them to start school confidently by having a positive attitude about it to pass on!