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Is your child socially and emotionally ready for kindergarten?

Leah Byrd Starting kindergarten is a big step in a child’s life. One of the biggest factors of a child being ready for kindergarten is his or her social and emotional skill set. How well does the child adapt to a new situation? Does the child understand some of the social “rules” in society? Does the child like to play alone or with a group of friends? Can the child problem solve? Lastly, does the child enjoy learning?

At the Early Learning Center, we provide a variety of Pre-K (4 year old) options for families.  All curriculum is rooted in play-based learning with a focus on using Pyramid Implementation skills to develop a student’s social and emotional skills. Children are given the opportunity to learn through independent and guided play with a focus on school readiness and social emotional development. Below is a list of some things parents and caregivers can do to help a child develop their social emotional skills.

  • Purposely read books about school. Ask your child what they think school will be like. Ask them what they will do if something at school is different than they thought it would be? 
  • Talk about characteristics of good friends. Ask what they think makes a good friend and what does not? Ask what skills they are really good at and what they need to practice more of?
  • Bring your child to playgrounds or play dates with lots of children. Kindergarten is different than preschool. There are typically 22+ kids with only one adult. Watch and observe how they problem solve without an adult helping.
  • When problems do arise, talk through them. Ask your child: “How did you feel when that was happening? How do you think the other person was feeling? What would you do differently? What would you keep the same? 
  • Provide opportunities for your child to be frustrated and problem solve without adult help. Of course do not put them in situations that are unsafe. Think of simple issues, like a missing boot or toy. Give them the time to feel frustrated and then move onto problem solving.
  • Model social emotional skills for your child. Model disappointment and then problem solving.  Model making friends. Model asking people to play. Model feeling sad when you don’t get your way. Model problem solving. 
  • Talk about whether an issue is a big problem or a little problem. Connect responses to those. For example, a little problem like a torn picture doesn’t need a big response like crying, stomping, or other big behaviors. Work over time to see if your child can match their response to the size of the issue. Positively reinforce when they are able to recognize the differenceand do this well.

Kids should feel and see others feeling different emotions.  The learning comes in what we teach them to do after the initial gut emotion. We want kids to know it's ok to have all of the emotions and they can control how they react. And most importantly help your child to feel excited about school starting. Let them know they’ll do great in school!

Leah Byrd, Early Childhood Coordinator