It's never too early to start preparing your child for school, and it doesn't have to be difficult to instill a love of learning in your child that will help them thrive throughout their educational career. You also don't have to be a teacher to help your child learn and succeed at school; you just need a little time and patience. Here are some simple ways you can help your young child thrive in school.
Send them to preschool
Although many schools begin formal education with kindergarten, it's becoming increasingly common to see a K4 or preschool class in elementary schools as well. Whether your child's future elementary school offers preschool or not, it's important that you investigate the preschool options in your community. Preschool isn't just a childcare option, it's a grade unto itself, and it can help prepare students for life in elementary schools in more ways than you may realize.
In preschool, your child learns to socialize appropriately with others, begins to develop the building blocks needed to learn to read, and may even learn simple math skills. Some states offer free preschool for all children regardless of parents' income, so check with your local department of education to see if this is available to you.
Read with your child
You don't have to break out War and Peace, but you should make reading an everyday event with your young child. Picture books are fine, especially if they have simple, short sentences or even one-word descriptions of the images in the book. By teaching your young child to associate the look of the word on the page with the image, your child will learn to recognize the word on its own when they begin to read. You can also make signs out of index cards and label things around your home for your child to read.
Reading to your child can be a great way to entertain them and encourage them to want to read independently when they are older. It's also a great way to encourage your child to sit still and pay attention, which are two important skills that they'll need to learn before they reach elementary school.
Bring learning into everyday life
You don't have to sit down and complete worksheets to learn. Make everyday a learning opportunity by including math and literacy skills in everyday activities.
- Point out letters to your child in street signs, shop displays, and in magazines.
- Encourage your child to help you count items as you unpack groceries, cook dinner, or tidy up the house.
- Check your local library for age-appropriate educational DVDs, and while you're there, encourage your young child to pick out a few books, too.
- Always ask questions and encourage your child to ask, too. Why do you have to wear your seatbelt? Why is the sky blue? Questioning things helps your child develop higher order thinking skills that help them learn.
Young children are naturally curious, so try to include some exposure to science, too. Take a nature stroll in the backyard and let them help you identify plants and insects, or help them create a habitat for insects and let them capture a few to watch for a few days. Educational opportunities are all around; you simply have to look for them and find a way to share them with your child. This will help them develop a love of learning that will help them thrive in school.
Foster a good relationship with their teachers
From the very first day of preschool onward, your child's teachers are going to be an important part of your child's life. Keep in touch with your child's teachers throughout the year so they can let you know if your child is struggling in any area of their education. Early intervention can keep a small problem from becoming a big one, and your child's teacher can help you immensely with this.
Encourage a love of learning from a young age and your child will be much more likely to have a happy, successful educational career. It only takes small steps to help your child thrive in school, so make sure you are setting them on the path to a great education by implementing these simple tips into everyday life.