Back to School: Tips to Prepare your Preschool or Early Elementary Age Child

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Whether your child is starting school for the first time or returning to school after summer break, the transition back to a structured classroom is not always easy. “School readiness” refers to the academic knowledge, social communication skills, and independence children need to do well in school. Here are some tips to help your child prepare for school!

Social Readiness

Whether your child is starting school for the first time or returning to school after summer break, the transition back to a structured classroom is not always easy. “School readiness” refers to the academic knowledge, social communication skills, and independence children need to do well in school. Here are some tips to help your child prepare for school!

  • Encourage your child to interact with siblings and peers. Practice turn-taking with toys and games to encourage sharing.
  • Model and discuss positive ways for your child to express their feelings. Encourage your child to verbalize how they are feeling, especially when they are angry or frustrated.
  • Encourage your child to complete difficult or frustrating tasks. Acknowledge your child’s frustration and help them to complete the task or think of an alternative solution.
  • Set rules and provide clear explanations of consequences for breaking them. Ensure that a child understands the consequences for breaking a rule.
  • Encourage your child to consider the feelings of others. If you see someone crying, you can ask, “Why do you think he’s crying?” or “How do you think he’s feeling?”
  • Establish regular routines throughout the day when possible. Mealtime and bedtime are great times to encourage your child to follow routines. These routines may include responsibilities for your child to complete independently (e.g., setting the table, putting dishes in the sink, brushing teeth, putting on pajamas).
  • Encourage your child to listen to and respond to what others say. Encourage your child to not interrupt and to wait their turn to share.

Academic Readiness

As a parent, you can start the foundation for academic knowledge that teachers build upon in school. Things you can do to prepare your child academically for school include:

  • Read to your child daily. Encourage your child to follow along with their finger as you read. Ask questions about the story as you go. For more tips on how to best facilitate interactive story time visit this blog: (link to Jamie’s blog Interactive Storytime)
  • Put your child’s name on clothing and toys to help them recognize their own name in print. Encourage your child to practice writing their own name.
  • Sing the alphabet song with your child. Use alphabet magnets or letter tiles to help your recognize letters by name and sound (e.g., “A is for apple. A-a-apple).
  • Help your child learn basic concepts like colors and numbers by naming and describing objects (e.g., “two green trees,” “three red apples,” “one blue coat”).
  • Sing rhyming songs and make up finger plays. Encourage your child to engage in pretend play with toys (e.g., dolls, kitchen sets, doctor sets).
  • Have your child complete puzzles and games that require counting, sequencing, and problem solving.
  • Encourage your child to write letters, scribble, draw, color, safely cut with a scissors, and paste.
  • Help your child learn and use new vocabulary through labeling and commenting on everyday objects in the environment.

Independence

In school, children are expected to do many skills and activities on their own, such as tying their shoes and using the bathroom. Independence in these skills can boost a child’s confidence and self-esteem. Things you can do to facilitate your child’s independence include:

  • Get shoes and clothing that are easy for children to buckle, zip, and fasten on their own. Encourage your child to dress and undress themselves independently.
  • Encourage independent toileting and hand-washing.
  • Let your child work and play independently on activities, such as completing puzzles. Encourage your child to ask questions if they need help completing an activity. Introduce the concept of raising your hand. Even if this skill is not incorporated in the home environment, it can be helpful to introduce this concept so that children understand they must raise their hand in a classroom setting.
  • Let your child do simple chores such as setting the table for mealtime or cleaning up toys after play to encourage understanding of responsibilities.

 

By Shelby Gunderson, M.S., CF-SLP

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