Q&A with Dr. Kim Har!
In some cities, getting into a top school can be very competitive. But even if the process is easy, there are ways to reduce the stress of helping to prepare your child for school. Most important is to not wait until the last minute, because children really do not master new skills overnight. Start early and make it fun.
She strongly suggests doing the following 6 steps:
- Encourage an early interest in books and reading
Set aside a regular time each day for story time and reading aloud to your child. Encourage her to look at the book with you. Point to each word as you read so that your child begins to understand the directionality of print and that each printed word represents a unique utterance.
- Engage in activities that support early writing
Supply your child with a variety of materials to encourage drawing and writing. Make a game of taking turns drawing and copying each other’s shapes. To discourage “fisting” and to help promote an appropriate pencil grip, give your child short, broken pieces of crayon. Playing with small toys such as “Pick Up Sticks,” pegs and pegboards, and threading buttons will help her develop an appropriate pincer grip and fine-motor dexterity.
- Provide opportunities to meet new people
Help your child grow comfortable interacting with new children by participating in playgroups or going to the neighborhood park regularly. Also, enrolling your child in classes will also help her adjust to a structured, adult-led setting where she can grow accustomed to routines and following directions. Many libraries offer free story time programs or community workshops that may provide these opportunities.
- Set an example for him or her
Research strongly indicates that children pick up behaviors from the adults around them. Therefore, one of the best things you can do is to demonstrate appropriate behavior in front of your child. Say “please” and “thank you” regularly for your child to observe. When faced with a challenging situation, model problem solving and perseverance by expressing your thoughts out loud: "This puzzle is hard, but I think I can find a different way to do it."
- Support independence and self-confidence
Use opportunities such as dining out or making purchases at a store to encourage your child’s independence. Have her place her own order by speaking directly to the server, or give her the money when making a purchase at a store. Daily opportunities such as these can help her feel independent and be a great confidence booster.
- Be active
Young children are typically active already, so use this energy to help your child build important skills such as balance, coordination, and strength. Play games around the house such as "Simon Says" and have her do a range of activites such as balancing on one foot, hopping backward, and walk on a line. Enroll her on a sports team and visit the neighborhood playground. Just as with any other area of development, children develop motor and physical abilities at their own unique pace. Allow your child to explore different activities and see what comes "naturally" to her.
These are some fantastic tips to get your child ready for his or her first day of school.
For more information on how to prepare your children for school, CLICK HERE.