The 2019-2020 school year is just a month away. Entering school for the first time is a huge milestone for our littles and few parents walk away from that Kindergarten classroom totally dry-eyed. It’s a time when we as parents reflect on how much our children have grown and marvel at the people they have become and how they will continue to grow. It’s also a time when parents worry about whether their children are ready for school and the challenges and hurts their children will experience as they embark on this new chapter in their lives.
There are many children entering kindergarten who do not yet have the skills they need to succeed in school. However, trying to hammer the ABCs into your preschoolers’ heads isn’t going to help your kid be successful at school according to a new study published this month in Pediatrics. Instead of pre-academic knowledge assessments, social-emotional development was found to be a greater predictor of school success. A child having a strong healthy relationship to their caregivers is foundational to successful modeling, including a love for learning.
Some of you out there might be rolling your eyes–of course an emotionally resilient child will be more successful in school, they are able to fail and try again more readily. But then your child takes the Oregon Kindergarten Assessment and scores below average or maybe just average. This is this moment to remember this study. The Oregon Kindergarten Assessment is not intended to test your child, it is intended to help Oregon develop effective educational programs, however it can be hard to turn off that voice in your head that wonders how you can help your child “do better.” The question I ask myself whenever this voice pops up in my head is “Do I want my child to do better or do I want my child to feel successful and to love learning?”
According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children, school readiness is a state of mind, not a state of knowledge and we as parents can lay the foundation for lifelong learners in little ways every day from the time our children are small. As your child develops language and increases their independence, you can start engaging in more structured, concrete efforts. And if you have already attended your little’s preschool graduation and are starting to think about what that transition to kindergarten is going to be like, well, there’s an article about that too.
Maybe your worries about your child’s success at school are a lot more concrete and rooted in behavioral realities you’ve been trying to navigate with your child. Here is a list of skills your child needs to be successful at school. If after going through this list you have one or two areas of concern, your child may still be ready to start school. However if you have a lot of concerns or one area in particular is very concerning, talk to your pediatrician. Identifying areas where support is needed and making a plan to help before your child starts to identify themselves as failing in school is critical to helping them succeed.