Preparing Your Child for School, Part 3 – Kindergarten & Language and General Knowledge

KindTeaching Kids about Sex and Reproductionergartners participate in many activities that require them to use language and to solve problems. Children who can't or don't communicate easily may have problems in school. There are many things you can do to help your child learn to communicate, solve problems, and develop an understanding of the world.

1. Answer questions your child asks.

Also ask her questions, particularly ones that require more than a "yes" or "no" response. While walking in a park, for example, most two and three-year-olds will stop to pick up leaves. You might point out how the leaves are the same, or how they are different. Questions can help children learn to compare and classify things. Answer your child's questions thoughtfully, and whenever possible, encourage her to answer her own questions. If you don't know the answer to a question, say so. Then, together with your child, try to find the answer.

2. Evaluate your child's abilities and interests, and be realistic.

3. Give your child opportunities to play.

Play is how children learn. It is the natural way for them to explore, to become creative, and to develop academic and social skills. Play helps your child learn to solve problems--for example, if his wagon tips over, he must figure out how to get it upright again. Children learn about balance, geometry, and shapes when they stack blocks. Playing with others also helps children learn how to negotiate.

4. Listen to your child.

Children have their own special thoughts and feelings, joys and sorrows, hopes and fears. As her language skills develop, encourage her to talk. Listening is the best way to learn what is on your child's mind and to discover what she knows and doesn't know, and how she thinks and learns. Listening also shows your child that her feelings and ideas are valuable.

5. Make reading materials available to your child.

Children develop an interest in language and reading much sooner if they have books and other reading materials around their homes.

6. Monitor your child's television viewing.

Next to parents, television may be our children's most influential teacher. Good television can introduce children to new worlds and promote learning, but poor or too much T.V. can be harmful.

7. Provide opportunities for your child to do and see things.

The more varied the experiences that children have, the more they learn about the world. No matter where you live, your community can provide new experiences. Go for walks in your neighborhood, or go places on the bus. Visit museums, libraries, zoos, grocery stores, and other community resources. If you live in the city, spend a day in the country, (or vice versa). Let your child hear and make music, dance, and paint. Let him participate in activities that help develop his imagination and allow him to express ideas and feelings.

8. Read aloud to your child daily.

You can begin when she is a baby and continue on throughout the preschool years. Even though she may not understand the story or poem, reading together gives your child a chance to learn about language, enjoy the sound of your voice, and be close to you. You don't have to be an excellent reader for your child to enjoy this time together. You may also want to take your child to a local library that offers special story hours.

9.Talk to your child, beginning at birth.

Babies need to hear your voice. A television or radio can't take the place of a parent because it doesn't respond to coos and babbles. The more you talk to your baby, the more he will have to talk about as he gets older. Talking with children broadens their understanding of language and of the world. Every day activities, such as eating dinner or taking a bath, provide opportunities to talk about and respond to what is happening to your child.

What About Kindergarten?

The U. S. Department of Education suggests you find out as much as you can about the school before your child enters it. Learn the principal's name, your child's teacher's name, when to register and what forms to fill out, what immunizations are required for school entry, the class program, kindergarten yearly calendar and daily schedule, transportation procedures, food service arrangements, and how you can become involved with your child's education and in the school. Some schools will send you this information, or they will hold an orientation meeting in the spring for parents who expect to enroll their children the following fall. If the school your child will be attending doesn't offer this, call the principal's office to arrange a visit.

Visit the school with your child so he can become familiar with it and so that it won't seem scary. Walk up and down the hallways to learn where things are. During your visit, make positive comments about the school. Talk about the teachers and how they will help your child learn new things. Explain to your child how important it is to go to class each day. If possible, consider volunteering at your child's school.

When the long-awaited first day of kindergarten arrives, go to school with your child, but don't stay long. Be patient. Many young children are overwhelmed at first because they haven't had much experience in dealing with new situations. Your child may not immediately like school and may cry or cling to you when you say good-bye each morning. But with preparation and support from you and the teacher, this will rapidly change. Be patient and consistent. A crying, clinging child can soon come home singing praises to the "best teacher" and the "awesomeness" of school. It just takes time for your child, or that part of your child to develop.

Paulu, N. (1992). Helping your child get ready for school. U.S. Department of Education: Office of Educational Research and Improvement.


For more resources for healthy child development, click here.

Click here to learn about "The 6 Best Things You Can Do For Your Children."

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