Getting your kindergartener ready for school

BY PENDA HONEYGHAN

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

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FOR some parents, September morning represents their official vacation from having to arrange 24-hour monitoring of their children. For others, especially those who are first-timers, it is the excitement of seeing their little ones ready and off to school that brings them the most joy.

Regardless of where along the line you end up, it is easy to forget that adequately preparing children for school does not end with them having the proper gears or resources. Read on for tips on how you can adequately equip and support your kindergarteners.

1. Prepare the child for school

This is the first time that your child will be going into a structured environment and their bodies and minds must be prepared for this. So introduce a new bedtime and get them into the routine. Encourage your child to have a healthy breakfast and choose nutritious snacks.

2. Address your child by his/her name

It's a common tradition to address children by a variety of aliases while they are at home. For various reasons, these little names can stick. However, in preparing your child for school, you may want to teach the child their name, that way the child will be able to identify with it. Other important details such as their address and phone number should be taught, and you want to make sure to teach them never to volunteer any of this information to strangers.

3. Teach your child how to keep safe

While teachers and security guards are on the school property, so too are many parents, guardians, and other adults tasked with transporting children, among other things. In all the chaos, especially at dismissal, adults with ill intentions can easily snatch a child who will go with just about anyone that tells them mummy or daddy sent them, especially if they can share their name. Teach your children not to go off with strangers, warn them never to wander from their pick-up, classroom or group. Also, if you or the person who is in charge of pick-up are unable to make it, teach your child a keyword that the person must provide, and never share it with anyone outside of whoever is doing the pick-up.

Secondly, tell them to alert someone else if they feel they are in danger and/or look for someone in uniform to get assistance from.

4. Play an active role in your child's education

Yes, you are sending your child to school and teachers are there to impart knowledge, but you also have a duty to meet the teacher half-way. Therefore, don't stop reading to your child because he or she is in school. Make sure that you assist your child or that someone is home to assist them with homework, and explore creative ways to help them revise or to make challenging topics easier to learn. Seek external assistance for the child if they are not meeting educational milestones so that they do not get left behind.

5. Encourage responsibility

Teach your child to pick up after him or herself or to be ready to join clean-up activities in class. You can do this at home by ensuring they clean up their play area and put away toys after use. Also teach them to keep their property safe — bags, raincoats, lunch kits and other supplies.

6. Give your child independence

From learning to tie their shoelaces to identifying which shoe to put on which foot, make clothes as easy to manage as possible. Teach them how to unbutton their pants or unzip their zipper. Other things such as using the toilet, how to wash their hands or use personal sanitiser will cause children to feel the amount of independence children at their age enjoy.

7. Talk to your child

They may only be toddlers, but they know more than you think they do. Start conversations with them, correct them gently, and listen to the way they reason and whatever it is they have to share even if you can't make sense of it all right away. Ask them questions and allow them to do the same with you. It is also great when your child knows they have access to you and can talk to you about anything. It is more likely that they will share something with you, for example, if they are being hurt, even if they are warned not to.

8. Be an active parent

Some parents turn up at school only at the start of the term, if there is a problem, or for report cards. Parents can better track the progress of their children if they go in and talk with the teacher, monitor the children's progress, and identify the challenges so that they are addressed. If you can, also volunteer at your child's class or school when you are able to.

9. Teach your child problem-solving skills

No matter how old you are, the possibility of conflict exists. Help your child to practise self-control. This will help them in deciding how and when to express their feelings and needs, and when and if to act on impulse. It's important to always warn them against fighting, even when the other child is being aggressive. Encourage them to get an adult involved.

10. Factor in time for play

With the children in a more structured setting and many hours spent focusing on educational material, schedule more free time at home to play after school and on weekends. Make sure that playtime is not spent watching TV or on other electronic gadgets. Physical activity is very important.

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