We are finding with this generation now heavily entrenched in the digital age, parents working and young lives being filled with structured activities, that developing social skills is an area where many young students struggle. At school, we require them to be caring towards themselves and others. They have to take turns, be kind, and keep their hands and feet to themselves. Most importantly, they have to engage with others in the playground in a non-structured way with little adult intervention. That can often be tough. To build your child’s social skills we ask that you provide them with many opportunities to engage in unstructured play, such as taking your child to play at the park or providing play opportunities at home without adult guidance. This not only helps build positive social skills but also creative thinking and problem-solving.
Kindergarten is exhausting and some children revert back to becoming highly emotional. We encourage you to talk with your child about their emotions, allowing them to know that it is okay to experience an array of feelings, but it is how we cope with them that is important.
At SCAS, we group our emotions into 4 zones and will explicitly teach your child how to recognise and respond to their emotions in each of these zones. At this stage, we ask you to discuss with your child how they are feeling and what things they can do to help improve their mood. We also encourage you to model discussions about your own emotions. The perspective of a young child is vastly different from our own and forgetting their drink bottle can seem like the end of the world.
You have already heard why this is so important and that working through our own fears of not wanting our precious children to fall is usually harder for us than our child. Begin by giving your child roles of responsibility within the family. Perhaps each evening they need to check that the play area is clean or to set the table. In preparation for school we encourage you to begin expecting your child to dress themselves, including putting their own socks and shoes on. It would be great to allow them to assist in packing their bags for preschool and giving them the role of checking that everything they need is packed (even if you later secretly check yourself). Ensure they can unwrap or undo lunch containers or packaging and water bottles. Ideally, allow them to be a part of the lunch making process.
Build your child’s independence by building their self-confidence and self-belief that they can do things on their own, even if they appear scary at first. Allow them to check the mailbox by themselves, allow them to be left for short periods of time at a friends party and when they begin school, allow them to walk into school unpack their bag by themselves.
The most important area of academic readiness is the ability to communicate clearly and to follow instructions appropriately. Encourage your child to use words to clearly communicate their requests.
We ask that you read to your child daily. Mem Fox would say three books a day. This should be a fun and engaging time with your child, not a chore. As you read, use expression, explore new words, encourage them to tell the story first by looking at the pictures and try to include at least one book choice that uses rhyme… changing the words and seeing if your child will correct you. Joining the local library is a great way to give your child access to a range of quality books. Reading Magic by Mem Fox is a great parent read on how to support your child in reading readiness.
Encourage awareness of numbers through counting collections, sharing amounts equally and discussing recognition of the weather and time. These skills can all be developed through fun and play.
More information about how to prepare your child for school can be found in your Kindergarten Booklet.
Finally, your child has 13 years of formalised learning ahead so allow them to enjoy the next few months being a child.