SCHOOL READINESS: PREPARING YOUR CHILD FOR NEW INTERACTIONS
As the childcare and preschool years come to an end, children need to prepare for lots of new experiences at primary school: doing homework, sharing the playground with older children, using gendered toilets, taking a backpack to class, caring for belongings and so much more! Unfortunately, there are also the negative aspects to consider, such as bullying.
While you can’t physically join your child at school to help them manage the wide range of interactions they will experience, you can ensure your child is emotionally prepared for these new social experiences. In early childhood education, we give children opportunities to feel capable and competent, and demonstrate through words and actions that they are valued and appreciated. We focus on shaping them into confident, resilient and self-assured young people, particularly as they grow and approach the stage of their lives where they enter primary school. We encourage parents to do the same. In fact, you as their parent can do a lot more than you probably think – here are some tips for getting your child school-ready.
BE AN EMPATHETIC ROLE MODEL FOR YOUR CHILD
In their early years of life, children are heavily influenced by what’s going on in the world around them, and especially by the people they see every day. That means – for better or worse – children mirror their parents’ behaviours. Even your unconscious behaviours can be easily picked up.
So how can you make sure they pick up good habits rather than the bad ones? By being a positive role model. That’s a lot harder than it sounds sometimes – after all, parenting is a tough job. But by acknowledging that your child ‘learns’ from your own actions and reactions to things, you can start to show them how to be compassionate to others.
TEACH THEM THAT IT’S OKAY TO BE SELF-ASSERTIVE
Back in the old days, children were taught to be seen and not heard. The reasoning was that if a child was given too much attention they would become spoilt. Nowadays, we know this is completely wrong – and, in fact, the opposite is true. It’s the assertive children who are the most emotionally confident and caring. At the other end of the scale, it’s the children who are too scared to speak up who become targets for bullies. Bullying is a problem in almost every school – millions of students in Australia have experienced bullying, and one in five (20%) are bullied on a weekly basis.
There are lots of different ways you can help your child become self-assertive, including:
Explaining the importance of boundaries.
Praising your child whenever they are assertive.
Encouraging them to share their feelings.
Being an assertive role model.
Teaching your child from a young age how to handle disappointment and manage their emotions.
3 WAYS TO INSTIL EMOTIONAL CONFIDENCE IN YOUR CHILD
Give them age-appropriate ‘special tasks’ to help you out: Giving your child ‘special tasks’ will help them feel useful, responsible and competent – plus, using the word ‘special’ will give them a big confidence boost! In the home, these special tasks can include helping with a pet or younger sibling, being your cooking assistant, choosing what to eat for breakfast, or simply dressing themselves.
Join their play (and let them lead): Joining in your child’s playtime sends the message that they are important and worthy of your time. During play, parents should allow children to initiate or choose the activity, as well as lead it. When parents engage in and appear to enjoy a child-led activity, the child feels valued and accomplished.
Let them overhear you speaking positively about them to others: Another quick, easy way to boost your child’s confidence is to ‘accidentally’ let them hear you praising their great achievements and efforts to others. Children are sometimes sceptical when we directly praise them, but hearing you repeat this praise to others makes it more believable (and even more meaningful).
EMOTIONAL CONFIDENCE MUST BE NURTURED
A child with good self-esteem is one who is confident in themselves. They also become caring, understanding and emotionally intelligent young people. This is important because children with healthy emotional confidence are able to put themselves in the shoes of others – which is vital when they start school and are interacting with children of all different ages and backgrounds. They also become great listeners, rather than reactive to other children’s emotions.
Creating emotionally confident children is extremely important to us at Heritage House. We believe emotional intelligence is just as important as intellectual intelligence. That’s why we make sure our educators and caregivers have the necessary skills to help your child navigate their emotions.
For parents of children who are experiencing bullying, you can get support from the Kids Helpline by calling 1800 55 1800.