Let’s break down academics to know when to freak out and when to just chill out. There is more to education than memorizing letters and numbers. Your young child is not being solely based by these things but being looked at as a whole person.
- Are they kind?
- Can they show compassion?
- Can they work with others?
- Can they cope with their own emotions throughout the day?
- Do they know how to have a conversation? Using eye contact and body language?
- Do they know how to advocate for themselves?
We need to look at the bigger picture: which is the whole child. Can you answer “yes” to all or most of these types of questions about your child? If not, then let’s take a step back. If your child has no grasp on the concept of themselves and others and the needs of themselves and others, then you can just slide those flashcards back into the box for now.
The first steps in education have to be laying a foundation of social and emotional groundwork. You are helping your child so much more by showing them how to be kind, than you would be by forcing them to play with “educational” games at home. Having conversations about what your child thinks about themselves is so empowering for them, and offering up what you love about them too, but more importantly telling them what you like about yourself as well. Teach from experiences you share in public. Allow your child to ask questions about people and what is going on around them. We are the captains of showing our children the ropes of life; the good and the ugly. Being honest with your child sets them up for success.
Once you can honestly say that your child excels at the questions above, then it is time to introduce academics. They are now in a place to receive the learning that you hope for them to absorb.
Mix your social skills and academics together by going to run errands in town with your children. They can help with grocery lists, numbers at the bank, colors at the beauty salon, or money at the laundry mat. At home you could have your child help you prepare meals regularly. Pick one day a week or one mealtime specifically. This is fun and educational for your child.
If you started making bedtime stories a nightly routine from birth that is a huge educational piece that you may not have even realized you were giving your child. They are making huge brain connections with this one activity alone. It’s not too late to start this if it is not currently a part of your bedtime routine.
So, you have put all these suggestions into play, and you sit down to have a parent teacher conference. You are shown that your child is “behind” in their learning. How can this be?? Not every child “clicks” at the same time. Your child is not “behind”. That is why it is called Pre School. It is exactly that; we are preparing them to go to school to learn more educational concepts. Perhaps your child has some more social skills to work on. And that is okay. Learning will come naturally and when you least expect it. One day you will overhear your child reading a book aloud to themselves. Today just may not be that day.
It will come; promise. We have to stop putting so much pressure on ourselves and our little ones just to look good on paper. We know you worry; that’s part of what makes you the great parent that you are. But breathe and think about all the things that you child DOES already know. That is the list to look at.
Lead Pre-Kindergarten Teacher