By Jennifer Quinonez for Los Angeles Universal Preschool
Ask most parents and they’ll tell you that the transition from their newborn cooing and crawling to running around and talking and getting ready for kindergarten happens in what feels like a minute. So it may come as no surprise that many families might feel unprepared about how to best help their child become better prepared to enter the world of elementary school.
Experts say it’s never too early to get your child ready for their next educational experience. Research shows the best way to do this is by first enrolling them in a high-quality preschool program and then taking an active role in preparing the child for kindergarten.
“Transitions can be very stressful for children and talking to them about the upcoming changes to a new school like kindergarten will help alleviate some of the stress,” says Celia C. Ayala, the CEO of Los Angeles Universal Preschool. “Having a smooth transition to kindergarten will help a child adjust to their new school, and how well a child adjusts to their new classroom can have an impact on their academic and long-term social achievement.”
Educators recommend planning ahead and involving your child in the kindergarten process to have the most successful adjustment for everyone involved.
In the year leading up to kindergarten, Ayala recommends parents to take advantage of a quality preschool program because it’s a great way for them to learn lifelong skills such as problem-solving and critical thinking.
“In preschool, children learn to wait their turn, share and get along with others,” she explains. “Preschool also encourages literacy, language and math skills, as well as teaching children how to communicate their emotions and be empathetic.
“This will go a long way in showing a child how to build friendships and get along with others.”
A few months before your child enters Kindergarten, it’s a good idea for families along with their 5-year-old to visit the classroom and meet with the teacher, principal and other staff. By doing this, it will ease a child’s fears about the upcoming changes, and give parents the chance to ask specific questions such as:
- What curriculum do you use?
- What is your teaching philosophy?
- How can I volunteer in the classroom?
- Do you offer before- or after-school care programs?
Above all, it’s important to help your child feel excited and comfortable about this new journey by talking to them about what’s about to happen and to discuss routines like washing hands, reading and play time, manners and schedules. It’s best to do this in a fun and interactive way to avoid causing anxiety about their new environment. Talking with your child in a positive manner and acknowledging their different feelings will additionally help your child feel comfortable about the new school year.
The first day of kindergarten may seem scary for your child, but if a parent helps them through the transition with support and understanding, it’ll strengthen the bond that lets the child know that no matter what changes may come their way, they can be assured that their family will always be there to help.
To enroll your child in a quality Los Angeles Universal Preschool program at little or no charge, call 1-866-675-5400 or visit www.laup.net.