Series Part #17: Self-Confidence Important for Kids Starting Kindergarten
Not just for kindergarten, but for anything and anyone, it’s much easier to start with an “I can do it!” attitude. Since children are not born with this confidence already locked in place, it needs to be part of the nurturing of parents and caregivers to help kids get ready for kindergarten. How can we encourage the development of a positive attitude and confident outlook?
The psychiatrist and author Rudolf Dreikurs wrote in 1971 that, “The most important skill for raising a child…is the ability to encourage that child.” We need to base that encouragement on children’s effort rather than on their achievement. Do you remember your child first trying to walk? Like parents everywhere, you smiled, held out your arms, and made faces and gestures that invited your child to try. There was celebration and delight even if the baby wasn’t successful that time. Unfortunately, after a few years, we seem to replace that encouragement for trying and only reward achievement. All too soon, children–and adults–only feel a sense of accomplishment when something is ‘done right.’
Encouraging children for their attempts, can be tricky. If a child is doing a puzzle, instead of saying “I can hardly wait to see the picture when it’s all done,” or worse, “That’s not where that piece goes, check out the picture,” we could acknowledge the attempt with, “You are putting that piece in lots of places to see if that’s where it fits.” Then, a question such as “Does the picture have any clues?” can direct a child’s attention to another strategy. The effort is encouraged rather than the result.
Having a positive attitude to learning, with confidence and eagerness to try, is important for anyone. Considering how much there is to learn, this can give children a powerful foundation and advantage. How does your child feel about learning?
Series Part #16: Hands-on Play Suggestions
There is no doubt that kids need hands-on play, but did you know that children need this play to help them get ready to start school in kindergarten? Hands-on fun stimulates all kinds of brain-connections for powerful thinking and learning.
No matter if your child is at home or at a child care center, there will be countless opportunities for hands-on play, such as blocks and construction sets, painting, puzzles, and play-dough. Sand and water can keep kids busy and happy day after day. Hands can turn pages in a book and make the actions to go with favorite songs. Helping put away the groceries or wash vegetables is a different kind of hands-on learning. Kids love to help when cooking and their hands can help stir, roll, and cut out cookies. Outside, hands can turn over rocks and play in the mud.
Why are these activities so important? The human brain takes in information from the senses. Just as hands learn to manipulate objects, the brain learns to manipulate information. As kids touch a variety of objects, the hands and the brain notice what is the same and what is different. The sand and rocks at the beach feel very different from the seaweed and seashells.
Children use their hands to discover and explore. What happens to slime when we lift it up? It stretches and stretches until it finally all pulls apart. It feels cool and slippery but not wet. How about playdough? What does paint do?
As children play hands-on they solve problems and come up with their own creative ideas. What happens when several blocks are piled up higher and higher? Is there any way to make a block tower so they do not fall down?
Discovering, solving problems, observing, and manipulating are only a few of the skills and strategies that children learn and practice during hands-on play. These form a basis for even more thinking and learning when kids start school so help them get ready for kindergarten.
What hands-on activities does your child enjoy?
Series Part #15: The Skill of Asking for Help
Okay everybody, hands up, unless you are reading this on a hand-held device. Does your child know how to ask for help? Pretend that you are only 4 or 5 years old and just starting kindergarten. It’s a whole new place and many things are unknown and different. Is there a good chance that you will have questions and might feel overwhelmed? That’s what it’s like for kids, and the concern is that some children do not know how to ask for help or information when they need it. Some only have the hands-up meaning from what they have seen on the screen. What does hands-up mean at school?
Even though ‘asking’ uses the same words as ‘telling’, the form of a question is more complicated. This takes some practice and we can help kids by giving them the words and form. For example, if your child is attempting to reach a book we can say, “I see you trying to get that book, but it’s too high. You can ask me to help like this: Can you get that book for me, please? You try it.”
We take it for granted that kids know how to do this, but after years of experience with kids starting in kindergarten, this can be a concern. Not only may they not know or can’t remember, sometimes kids may want to do things by themselves or are reluctant to approach an adult for help. Practice can make this easier.
Adults are often reluctant to ask for help and want to do things independently. Our kids need to see us asking others so they can feel comfortable. These words of advice from Jeff A. Johnson at Explorations Early Learning are a good reminder, “Care-giving and parenting are tough jobs. They require abundant focus and emotional labor. At times, these jobs can seem overwhelming. If you need help, resources, assurance, ideas, direction, information, or any other kind of support ask for it…. A side benefit of asking for help when you need it: it teaches the children in your life that they can do the same.”
Giving kids the words and form for questions when needed and letting them see and hear us asking, will help kids with the skill and strategy of asking for help. Helping each other is a powerful to form friendships and make connections. Is it hard for you to ask for help? How about your child?
Series Part #14: Is Separation Anxiety a Concern for Your Child For Kindergarten? Do you think animals are anxious too when their offspring go off on their own and separate from parents? What about self-care concerns? All parents, everywhere, have the responsibility to teach children how to be independent. Kindergarten means separating for both kids and … Continue reading Self-Care/Being Able to Separate Important for Kindergarten
Series Part #13: Emotions Can Impact Getting Ready for Kindergarten The world can be a confusing place for children but sometimes emotions are a big challenge, even for adults to figure out. The early years between the ages of birth and 5 years old are the most sensitive for learning about emotions and how to … Continue reading Emotions, Not Just Academics, Important For Kindergarten
Series Part #12: Social Skills or Academics Needed for Kindergarten? This isn’t a quiz or a test, it’s a thinking question. Would you say that academic achievement or social skills would have more impact on success after graduation from school? Would it surprise you to learn that it’s social skills? And how about at the … Continue reading Basic Social Skills Helpful for Starting Kindergarten
Series Part #10: Kids Going to Kindergarten Need a Nature Connection When it comes to ways to help children get ready to go to kindergarten, you may be thinking about letters and numbers, but how about time in nature? This quote from the Center for Families, Communities, Schools and Children’s Learning explains why: “Children learn … Continue reading Nature Helps Kids Get Ready For Kindergarten and Life
Series Part #9: Helping Kids Get Ready for Kindergarten Includes Movement Activities Did you know that running, walking, hopping, jumping and other ways that kids move can help them get ready to start school? After all, kids learn ‘on the move’. As adults, we only need to be stuck in an airplane seat for a … Continue reading Run, Walk, Hop, Jump, Skip, and Slide to Kindergarten
Series Part #6: Helping Kids Get Ready for Kindergarten Includes Knowing Names Sometimes, as we help children get ready for kindergarten, we miss items that are so basic we take them for granted, like kids knowing their names. This is especially important if a child has been answering to a nickname, a middle name, or … Continue reading Ready for Kindergarten: Does Your Child Know Names?