Preparing Young Children for School
Even if your children aren’t yet in school, you can still have a positive effect on their education and prepare them for school success. Your child’s educational experience in preschool or kindergarten will be better if he or she is well-prepared to start learning. By using some of the strategies below, you can ensure that your child is equipped to begin her or his academic career.
- Support Early Literacy: Read to your child every day. As she grows older, ask that she read to you. Always keep plenty of books around (on shelves and bedside tables, in the car, and anywhere else you spend time) and make regular trips to the library for more.
- Add Variety: Ask your librarian for suggestions on a variety of books and music that might be suitable for your child and encourage early literacy. Expose him to many different types of reading and listening.
- Turn Learning Into Play: Young children love to count, name colors, and find letters of the alphabet in funny, unexpected places. Help your child find them on billboards, shampoo bottles, cereal boxes, and other places. Even things like the ABC game can help your child’s early literacy and learning skills.
- Explore Your Options: If you choose to enroll your child in a preschool, visit several local schools with your child. Talk to teachers, students, and parents about how they like the program, if it’s been successful in preparing their students, and whether they would recommend it to others.
- Be a Role Model: Model your own ongoing learning—read regularly, talk to your child about what you’re learning on the job, and consider taking a community education class to show that learning is a lifelong activity.
- Socialize: Make playdates with other parents of preschoolers, or find out if your local library or community center offers free events for young children. Spending time with other children will help your child’s social and emotional development and prepare her for the school environment, and spending time with other parents will prepare you for being involved in your child’s school and education.
- Start saving for college: There are many ways to make college affordable. Even the smallest savings can add up if set aside regularly over a long period of time.
- Make Learning Fun: You can incorporate learning into your child’s day in many ways—try using music, puzzles, early literacy books, blocks, and games to add variety to your child’s day. Many of these activities include educational content.
- Bring kids to different places to stimulate learning: Taking a trip to the beach to play in the sand, going to a playground on the other side of town, or visiting a children’s museum are all ways to engage your child intellectually.
- Stay Involved: Parent involvement in school is important, even in preschool. Talk to your child’s preschool teacher (or child-care provider) regularly about his educational and social development. Many preschools offer developmental assessments, which can also provide insights on your child’s development.
- Attend open houses and other school events: By being involved in schools, parents show great support for their children and their children’s education.
By beginning your child’s education early—even before she begins school—you’ll be preparing her for success. If you’re intentional about including educational experiences in your family’s everyday life and being involved in your child’s school, you will be setting your child up for a successful educational career through the establishment of your child’s literacy and a commitment to learning.