If you have a little one about to start school then I’m sure you’ve been bombarded by all the recommendations: read to them, help them practice writing their name, teach them letters and numbers… While providing your child with a good academic foundation is a great contributing factor to their success in school, there are some other skills you can work on in the months leading to the first day of kindergarten.
Mental and Inner Flexibility
Mental flexibility refers to the flexibility of character which means being open-minded to change. Teaching your child how to deal with unexpected changes will help him or her develop realistic expectations, problem solve to find a solution and looking for the good things that may have resulted from the initial disappointment.
It’s hard to explicitly teach this skill but be sure to talk about how disappointing it can be when things do not go their way and give a recent example of when unforeseen circumstances ruined his or her plans.
Inner flexibility involves respecting the differences of other children, sharing and taking turns and is a very important skill for a soon-to-be kindergartener to have. Encourage your child to interact positively with other peers and praise sharing and turn taking behavior.
Strength of Character
Once your little one enters the school yard it is a chaotic jungle of tiny personalities. Strength of characters means being honest, standing up for someone who needs help and putting the best effort into every task. You can help your child develop strength of character by encouraging his or her interests as well as helping them stand up for themselves.
Kids are varying levels of strength in various different areas of life. Here is a checklist of types of strengths your child may possess.
Endurance and Character Development
Mental endurance is the ability to stick with something and stay with task even if you want to quit. Look for situations in which your child seems frustrated and bored and give him or her ownership in decision making.
Before allowing your child to quit an activity, discuss ways that he or she can make the activity more enjoyable or remind him or her of what the desired outcome will be. Explain that quitting should be a last resort. However, forcing your child to completion may do more harm than good – try to be encouraging without being forceful.
It never hurts to teach your child how to be physically healthy, especially before they start school where moving around is largely focused on.
Start by introducing some stretches to your daily routine. You can play a game called, “Stretch and Guess.” Take turns stretching like different animals and see if you can guess which animal it is. Or you can have your child try to twist and turn their bodies into different letters and numbers.
Next you can work on building strength in their bodies. Try having a push up challenge or help your little master the monkey bars at the playground. If you have a willing group of people, a game of tug-of-war is a fun way to build strength.
Lastly, you should try to help your child build some physical endurance. Have relay races around the playground or roll a dice to perform that number of jumping jacks. Running is an optimal exercise for developing endurance and, as an added bonus, can also help boost your child’s immune system – a definite plus when they are about to start school amid dozens of children and plenty of germs.