Mind the gap: Are our preschoolers prepared for primary school?

The focus of academics is a common practice during transition, yet preschool children are not ready for primary school. What then is a well-balanced approach?

The focus of academics is a common practice during transition, yet preschool children are not ready for primary school.

There has been a recent buzz on enrolling children for tuition classes during the early years. This focus on academics may not be the best for your children’s attitudes and mindset towards school. As early childhood educators, we recommend a well-balanced approach in preparing preschoolers for primary school.

Promoting positive relationships

It’s not an easy task to make friends, let alone good friends. Therefore, your child should first be encouraged to be in close terms with their classmates. For instance, greeting one another and engaging in positive conversations are a great start towards building a positive relationship. Your child might even look forward to school and achieve better academic results. Ultimately, it promotes your child’s sense of confidence and self esteem – values that can’t be memorized on paper!

Embrace and manage emotions

Transition is a stressful period for children that would lead to a wide range of emotions from anticipation and excitement, to stress and fear. Often enough, children may find it difficult to reason with their emotions and resort to demonstrate challenging behaviours, such as hitting others. A better management of their own emotions would allow children to react appropriately in these situations from remaining calm in conflict, to anticipating change in new surroundings. This draws a bridge between their feelings and emotions, which enables them to reason within themselves and take appropriate action towards it.

Raising resilience

As the saying goes, “the only constant in life is change”, it is important to prepare your children with the skills to be able to embrace these changes - skills in which involves instilling a positive mindset to cope in life. This promotes resiliency in children, which is an important aspect of your child’s growth and well-being. As transitional period is a form of change that would cause stress on your child, these skills are then essential to transit to new environments with grace.

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So let’s shift our focus!

It is a relief that Singaporean parents understand the importance of excelling academically in school, however there are other skills that should not be forgotten. As mentioned in Vital Voices written by Lien Foundation, parents should set goals for children that are “more than just cognitive or academic attainment, but also broad social and personal goals for children’s development such as self-confidence, enjoyment of learning and learning how to learn”. Education is not all about striving in school, but excelling in life.

What should we teach our kids in order to be ready for primary school? Click on the next page!

Tips for takeaways

Promoting positive relationships

  • Teach your child the importance of building positive relationships. Model for them the different ways of creating positive relationships and gaining support from peers by engaging in positive daily interactions at home.
  • Create opportunities for your child to make friends. You can bring your child to outdoor or indoor playgrounds and even set up playdates with neighbours and classmates.
  • Help your child to make amends and resolve conflict. Saying ‘sorry’ is a useful skill that can be the start of conflict resolution.

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Embrace and manage emotions

  • Teach your child methods of self-regulation such as counting from 1 to 10 or taking a deep breath when he or she is feeling angry and upset.
  • Model active listening by validating your child’s behaviour. For example, you can say, “I can see that you are upset when he snatches your toy.” This shows that you understand and respect hers or his emotions.
  • Role modelling - You are your child’s first educator, your every move and words are observed by your child. Be sure to practice what you preach.

Raising Resilience

  • Explain to your child about what he or she can expect in primary school, such as longer hours in the classroom, lesser eating time and rehearse the new routines with your child such as  buying food and silent reading.
  • Read storybooks about first day of school and share experiences about changes to give your child a head’s up about the change he or she is going to experience.

Reference:

Ang, L. (2012). Vital voices for vital years : A study of leaders’ perspectives on      improving the early childhood sector in Singapore. Singapore : Lien            Foundation, 2012.