The first day of kindergarten probably still feels like a lifetime away for your preschooler, but it’s never too early to help build the foundations for a successful and enjoyable school life. A confident child will find it easier to make new friends, be more willing to contribute to class discussions and be ready to ask for help when they are having trouble.
There are a number of simple, practical things you can start doing now to help build your child’s confidence for what can be a daunting transition:
1. Encourage age-appropriate independence
Children love to feel useful and valued, so letting them start to do some simple household tasks is a great first step.
Encourage your child to help out by making their bed, feeding the dog, picking up their toys, dressing themselves or helping out in the kitchen. Helping Mum or Dad whip up healthy meals and treats is a great way to build your child’s confidence. It also has the added benefit of encouraging a healthy lifestyle: your child is much more likely to try that veggie fritter if they’ve had a hand in making it themselves!
2. Positive self-talk
As children approach five years of age, they often become focused on comparing their achievements with others’ and can be very self-critical. You can combat this by encouraging positive self-talk, both towards your children and yourself – remembering that we are our children’s most important role models!
You can encourage a growth mindset by redirecting negative self-talk (‘You can’t do it yet’; ‘You can do hard things if you keep practicing’) and rewarding effort rather than talent (Instead of ‘you’re a very good artist’ or ‘you’re talented at soccer’, try ‘I can see you worked really hard at that’ or ‘you did your best at soccer today!’).
3. Practice, practice, practice!
One of the most daunting aspects of starting school for many children is leaving behind their preschool playmates and entering a classroom full of strangers. While this may be unavoidable, we can give them the tools needed to make new friends with ease.
The best way for your preschooler to learn how to make friends is practice! Take them to the playground or a new playgroup or get them involved in a group activity, such as swimming lessons, is a great way to get them used to meeting other children.
Some children are natural social butterflies, while others are more reserved and prefer observing from afar when entering a new environment. Be patient and respect your child’s personal space – they will join in when they are ready. Remember that being confident isn’t the same as being extroverted. Your child may never be the life of the playground – the key is that they are content and secure in themselves and the friendships they form.
4. Teach the practical skills needed for school
Nothing destroys confidence more than realising you can’t perform a simple task your peers complete with ease. There are lots of fun, play-based ways you can help teach the practical skills needed for school life.
Threading beads helps develop the fine motor skills required for tying shoelaces. Dressing a doll or teddy can help a child learn how to put on their own clothes – especially when there are buttons, clasps and zips involved! Games such as ‘Duck, Duck, Goose’ and ‘Simon Says’ help children develop their abilities in listening and taking turns.
5. Talk them through it
As the school start date draws closer, having conversations about ‘big school’ will help your preschooler mentally prepare. Talk them through the routines of school life, as well as all the fun they can have learning new skills, making friends and playing. Keep the conversation light and positive – if you are enthusiastic, they will be too!
Starting primary school is a huge milestone in your child’s life and it’s natural for both parent and child to have some concerns. Developing confidence during the critical early years will not only help your child excel in the classroom and playground, but is also setting them up for success later in life – and it’s never too early to start.
If you want to learn more, call Kids Club Early Childhood Learning Centres or book a tour now of your closest Kids Club Early Learning Centre, click here to view your closest Centre.
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