Every parent shares the excitement and anxieties associated with the kindergarten milestone. While individual development and the cultural timetables for promoting independence vary, here are comprehensive attitudes and strategies you can apply to preparing your 3-year old, 4-year old, and 5-year old for kindergarten success.
Key Attitude: I am a facilitator and a guide.
Strategy: Talk about everything! “Serve and return.”
The single most determining factor in a child’s readiness for school, rests in the type of conversations and interactions between parent and child. The term, “serve and return,” is a good way to remember what this looks like. The child does or says something. The adult says or does something in return, or vice versa.
Keep a running dialogue with your child all through the day, even if you’re tired or out in public. You are your child’s first teacher. Learning and independence rely on the “serve and return” principle, so being involved will actually increase independence.
Key Attitude: Practice is the way to mastery.
Strategy: Pull your hands away! “Practice makes perfect.”
The best and first way to help your child master a task or skill, is to let your child practice. You can model for him, tell her how to do it, encourage and remind. But then you just have to pull your hands away and let your child try.
Don’t expect perfection at first! Remember that young hands and brains are still developing. Encourage your child to be patient with and proud of practice efforts. Be sure to allow enough time for a novice pace. If a new skill is too far out of reach, put it aside for a short time and come back to it later. Learning and independence are increased by right timing.
Key Attitude: My child is capable of far more than I can imagine.
Strategy: Support your child’s true genius! “Your child is unique.”
Throw out the popular view of intelligence. Schools spend years developing a balanced general curriculum. Of course you want your child to have strong academic skills, athletic strength and the thinking capacity produced by musical training! But your child is unique!
Understand this: Genius and intelligence are unique talents or capacities that an individual excels in. Whatever interests your child exhibits should be fed like hungry monsters. Provide opportunities for your child to explore and delve where curiosity leads to true genius.
Here are some examples for how to follow your child’s lead and interests:
If your child asks a question: Answer it completely, explain and demonstrate. Get a library book on the topic, or go to the internet together to explore and discover knowledge together.
If your child does something such as build a road with some toys: Ask them to tell you about the road, where it goes and how they did it. Make a suggestion for building a bridge, or adding scenery. Take a few minutes to pretend you are taking a road trip together. Get out some maps or explore the navigation on your phone the next time you drive together.
If you apply these key attitudes and strategies, your child will love to learn, and you will be truly amazed at what your child can do!