No athlete would simply arrive at a game one day and expect to play; there’s a lot that happens long before. Somehow though, we expect kids to just arrive at school one day and be able to do their best. Just like the athletes, preparation can help kids get ready for school.
Many professional athletes have loved to play since they were young. The key word is PLAY. Kids need time everyday to play because this is how they learn best. As children play, they develop critical brain connections and pathways that they will use for thinking skills and strategies at school. The early years between birth and 5 years of age are the optimum time for early learning and brain development.
Pros have spent a great deal of time practicing. Children practice doing things over and over as they play. The baby that drops a spoon onto the floor many, many times is both playing and practicing. Will the same action produce the same result? The child that spends several minutes every time when leaving the house to jump from the third step to the ground is also practicing. Likely the parent says that it’s time to go, not play.
While much time is spent watching, athletes know they need to participate. Kids also need to do both, watch how others do things and then do it for themselves. To help get ready for school, kids can participate in listening to stories, singing songs, squishing playdough, coloring with sidewalk chalk, building towers with blocks, imagining with a box, having playdates with friends, checking under rocks, rolling down hills at the park, splashing in puddles, and more.
Before getting to major games, athletes will start at a beginning level and work up. Before going to preschool and kindergarten, kids also need somewhere to start. This could be at groups with parents and tots, library story time, community activities and other places where kids can develop independent skills and gain confidence about being separated from parents and caregivers.
How will your child play and learn today?