Learning Happens Everywhere: 5 Ways to Prepare Young Learners for the Classroom

Children are born learning and encounter lessons and teachers everywhere – from their family’s home to the neighborhood park to preschool classrooms or care centers.  As little ones continue to grow, there are many ways that families and caregivers can help them get ready for the more formal learning environment of Kindergarten.

Kindergarten is an exciting time for your child, where she will learn new things, make new friends, and begin to develop independence. In fact, you are likely already supporting your child in her path to the classroom through the interactions, large and small, that you have with her each day!

The most important indicator of school readiness is your child’s social-emotional development. In her article, The Impact of Preschool Social-Emotional Development on Academic Success of Elementary School Students, Researcher Marita Shala explains that healthy social-emotional development is a predictor of a child’s success, especially in the early elementary grades. She defines social-emotional development as “Consisting of the relationships an individual has with others, the level of self-control, and the motivation and perseverance a person has during an activity.” When children can play with others, learn to follow simple rules, communicate and exhibit self-regulation, they are happier, more secure and have better interactions in school. This all leads to being ready to learn.

There are many tools that list the core skills your child should have prior to kindergarten such as writing his name, knowing letters and numbers and counting to 10. You can help your child with the core skills while also supporting essential social-emotional development. Learning occurs everywhere, and here are a few ideas that will help you prepare your little learner:

  1. Children’s and science museums are great places for your child to interact with others while exploring his interests. Get a schedule of activities and join the groups that you think your child will love.

Talk about rules and what will happen when going to a specific place.
When you go to the grocery store, explain why she can’t pull things off the shelves or why you need to use indoor voices as you shop. When you child follows the plan, praise her for her efforts.

Visit the story time at the public library. This time will not only give your child the experience of listening and early reading skills but will also help him in interactions with other children.

Go outside and learn to play a few games such as Mother May I or Hopscotch. These games have rules and will help your children with following directions and taking turns.  Next, play a few board games indoors to reinforce those same skills.

Read books about going to school and social-emotional issues. We have a few favorites such as Me First by Helen Lester, Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord, Countdown to Kindergarten by Alison McGhee and Curious George’s First Day of School by Margaret and H.A. Rey. The stories in these books will help your child learn by observing how the characters handle different situations.

Children need a combination of intellectual and social emotional skills to be ready for kindergarten. It is difficult to learn if they are easily distracted or have difficulty with relationships. You can help your child build these skills early and get ready to learn!

This article was originally posted on the Curious World blog - check it out for more tips and activities to support your child’s learning journey.