GRAND RAPIDS, Mich (WOTV) - Preschool is a big time for children and their parents. Everyone wants their child to be prepared and give them the skills they need when first starting school. It's not always about who can count the highest or say their ABC's, but kids should enter school with certain social skills. Here are four things to do to prep your preschooler:
Why it matters: Preschoolers learn and interact in groups, so teachers expect them to understand concepts like sharing and taking turns.
How to get prepped: Arrange group playdates with three or four kids, and test your child's independence by staying in the background as they interact. Even if your child is a playgroup regular, they need to mingle with kids they are unfamiliar with. Having experiences with different personalities goes a long way toward helping children get along with future classmates. Consider enrolling your child in a music or art class where they can interact with new faces regularly.
Adapting to a routine
Why it matters: The classroom is a disciplined environment in which kids can't play or snack whenever and wherever they want.
How to get prepped: Set consistent times for meals, naps, snacks, baths, and bedtime, and try to stick to them. This will get your child used to delaying gratification and help prepare them for the structure of preschool.
Focusing on a task
Why it matters: Preschoolers sometimes work independently on puzzles, art projects, and other activities during class. To complete them successfully, your child needs to be able to stick with one things and avoid getting distracted.
How to get prepped: Attention is a learned skill; working on it is like building a muscle. The more time your kid spends concentrating, the more adept they will become. At home, encourage them to spend quiet time drawing, playing, or looking at books. Also, limit the amount of time they spend in front of a screen,since research suggests that the constantly changing images can make it harder for children to focus.
Why it matters: Teachers expect preschoolers to know the classroom rules and to carry out simple commands, such as lining up, sitting in chairs, and putting craft materials away.
How to get prepped: Let your child help with everyday activities in the home. For example, have them join you while putting away stuffed animals or doing dishes. Don't forget to say please and thank you! Build up to gradually giving them two-step instructions, such as "Please put away your crayons and then close the toy box." It's also important to have simple rules at home like, "We brush our teeth every night." When your child follows them successfully, acknowledge it so the behavior will want to be repeated. Giving your child options will also make them feel like they have control. For example, "It's time to get ready for bed. Would you like to start by putting on your pajamas or brush your teeth first?"
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