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School Readiness

Giving Each Child the Skills to Succeed

What does it mean for a child to be ready for school? School success is not only about academics, but also the life skills needed to be ready and willing to learn. By understanding school readiness, you can help your children achieve success in both school and life. This podcast explains school readiness and how you can help your child prepare for success. 

School readiness involves the development of core competencies and academic competencies which work together to support the preschool child’s full learning potential. School readiness is important for children from birth to approximately 6 years of age. However, the age when a child is ready is different for every child.

Core competencies are often referred to as inner strengths and include resilience, self-regulation, well-being, social skills, and critical thinking. So what do all of these really mean, and how can you help your child to develop them?

Resilience is the ability to withstand stress and cope with challenges. Having resilience helps us adjust to new and difficult situations, keep a positive outlook, and take responsibility for decisions. You can help your child build resilience by:

  • Keeping a consistent schedule so children learn to trust that parents will return after school.
  • Support self-control by playing games that require taking turns such as blowing bubbles, using swings, going down slides, and playing soccer or basketball.
  • Build self-esteem by drawing pictures of things you and the child are good at doing.

Self-regulation is the ability to control urges and behavior, identify emotions, and respond appropriately. Tips for building self-regulation include:

  • Teach your children how to slow down, remain calm, and talk out a problem. For example, create an “I Plan” they can use when confronted with a problem. “I stop. I breathe. I think. I act.”
  • Set clear expectations that allow children to make choices. For example, “I see you are kicking the chair. If you need to kick something, we can go outside and you can kick the ball.”

Well-Being is maintaining good mental, emotional, and physical health, developing positive self-esteem, and having a sense of purpose. Tips for building well-being include:

  • Eat at least one family meal per day where you and children can share thoughts, feelings, and concerns.
  • Teach children to care for themselves, such as eating healthy, dressing themselves, caring for their own belongings, and taking care of toilet needs.

Social Skills involve getting along with others, forming strong positive attachments, resolving conflicts, being honest, having integrity, and demonstrating sensitivity. You can nurture social skills by:

  • Helping your children label and discuss their emotions.
  • Provide opportunities for children to play together as a group. For example, board games, outdoor sports, music activities, and dramatic play.
  • Invite children to help make a list of safety rules that everyone can follow.

Critical Thinking is the ability to plan, set goals, apply reason and logic to situations, analyze information, and think creatively. Some tips to promote critical thinking are:

  • Ask children open-ended questions such as “Why did your blocks tumble? Why did your milk spill? What do you think will happen next?”
  • Provide children with a variety of objects such as cardboard boxes, paper, crayons, scissors and tape to allow them to create figures, sculpture, etc.

Academic competencies are knowledge and skills that are taught in school such as language and literacy, mathematics, creative arts, science, and social studies.

Language and Literacy is the ability to listen, speak, read, and write in English as well as the child’s home language. Tips to building language and literacy skills include:

  • Singing songs and reciting rhymes
  • Retelling stories in order and backwards
  • Naming pictures in a book
  • Learning to identify and write a child’s first and last name

Mathematics skills include identifying numbers, shapes, patterns and sizes. Being able to count, estimate quantities, measure, and understand the concept of time. You can help your child build math skills by:

  • Counting objects (10 or higher)
  • Playing memory or matching games.
  • Identifying shapes and sizes, like rectangle, triangle, diamond, cube, big, small, long, short, etc.

Creative Arts include different methods of expressing creativity such as drawing, painting, sculpting, creating stories, singing, dancing, and making music. To encourage creativity, tell a story with puppets or dolls, make up a dance and song, or provide watercolors, crayons, markers, or paint for children to use in their own way.

Science skills include the ability to understand cause and effect, investigate nature, ask questions, and make predictions. Some ideas for building science skills are:

  • Write down different things that might affect your balance, like standing on the right foot vs. left, then try doing them.
  • Ask questions about nature, such as “What happened to the rain on the ground? Why are the leaves brown or green? What will happen if we don’t water this plant?”
  • Explore and identify natural objects such as rocks, leaves, plants, flowers, trees, seashells, sand, water, and insects.

Social Studies skills help children relate to others and understand their community. Help build these skills by:

  • Visiting the local police station, library, fire department, senior center, bank, post office, and talk about what you see.
  • Experience other cultures through restaurants, talking to neighbors, listening to various languages, and talk about similarities and differences.

Time spent teaching your child the skills he’ll need to succeed in school is time well spent. The gift of times shows a child that he is safe, loved, and capable of learning.

To find all of these tips and to access additional podcasts and brochures on important parenting topics, visit the Family Education Program page on our website at www.chs-ca.org.

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