Pre-school, which is designed for 3-4 year olds before beginning kindergarten, is a great way to ease your child into a school setting. They offer half-day or limited exposure to a relatively regimented school environment, which includes group socialization as well as an introduction to the ways rules work in a classroom as opposed to the home environment. Preschool is set up to teach your child the basics necessary to move onto kindergarten, such as an ability to follow rules, work well with others, a familiarity with shapes, colors, numbers, and language, and many other skills. However, your child should have some basics down before entering preschool.
How to Share
Even if your child is an only child, make sure he knows that sharing is an important part of human interactions. Although preschool may bring its share of incidents, a child who enters the classroom with no experience sharing is going to be at a severe disadvantage when it comes to trying to make friends.
How to Deal with Differences
For many children, preschool is the first time they are out of the home for an extended period of time. This means your child will be exposed to people from different backgrounds, different ethnicities, different races, and different value systems. One way to help beef up your child’s tolerance is to read books that deal with differences. Whether it’s understanding that some children come from single-parent households or LGBT households, there are books designed to deal with it. Make differences something that your child is interested in and embraces rather than something she rejects.
How to Sit Still (Without the TV on!)
This one may just be to help out the teacher, but knowing how to sit still for a short time can be helpful. Whether it’s coloring or listening to a story, it helps not to have a classroom full of kids running around wildly. This isn’t to say that your child shouldn’t be encouraged to move around, but part of school is learning how to fit your needs into a schedule made by someone else. This task will definitely be more difficult for some children then others, but try a few projects or activities this summer that require your child to sit still for a while and see how it goes.
How to Communicate Needs
The teacher will not know your child as well as you do, and the nonverbal cues you’ve grown used to picking up will not necessarily be useful in the classroom. If your child has to use the bathroom, he needs to learn how to verbally communicate that need to the teacher so that his needs can be met. One way to help your child learn this skill is to have her talk to other people about what she needs. Have him order his own food in a restaurant and talk to the waiter.
How to Listen
Listening will help your child be a better student and a better friend. Read books aloud to your child, have conversations that involve your child listening to you and then responding. The best way to do this is to have conversations that involve lots of questions. Teach your child that reciprocating questions is often a nice way to form bonds. If someone asks how your day was, you should do the same back to them. Model this in your own relationships with others, and your child might surprise you by picking up on it.
Preschool can be a scary time for parents as well as kids, but having some of these basic skills in place can ease the transition a little for everyone. What are some other things you think kids should know before starting preschool?