How to Prepare Young Children for School

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“It’s not working.” “My child isn’t learning!”  “I can’t do this.”

Whether your family has chosen to homeschool or been thrust into it, all parents have days when they feel this despair. Zoom fatigue and wiggly pre-school children who would rather play than review the alphabet are challenges even the most seasoned parents sometimes need help navigating.

We asked our Early Childhood Director, Margee Boswell, for some tips on how to prepare young children for school and how to bring the joy back to learning at home.

#1 Practice Online Etiquette – Teach Students to put Effort into E-Learning!

“First, make sure students are dressed in their uniforms and ready for school, even if they are learning virtually, Mrs. Boswell shared, “Allowing your child to stay up too late and not waking them up in time to get the full benefit of what is being offered through e-learning can make things challenging.”

When asked what advice she would share with parents whose children are struggling to get started each day she said, “They should have their supplies ready and be in a dedicated school space if possible. Also, teach them responsibility for organizing and putting things away when they are done for the day because that’s what they would have to do at school.”

Maturity is key and showing responsibility for one’s self and materials is a key indicator of school readiness.

#2 Practice Habit Training – Help Students Build Stamina with Consistent Reminders

Habit Formation is at the core of a strong foundation for success for young students. Popularized in the 1800s by educators like Charlotte Mason, habit training remains essential to developing the strong executive function skills students desperately need to thrive in the future. How does it work? Frequent, patient reminders.

If a student keeps leaving his seat during a Zoom meeting, for example, Mrs. Boswell suggests teaching them to ask permission – even though they are at home. “If they were at school,” she said, “they wouldn’t just leave their seats.”

Being able to sit at their desk and follow directions is a key indicator of school readiness and one that parents can work on now by gently nudging students back to their workspaces when they wander. This will help your child to “build stamina” for learning independently for longer amounts of time.

At The Oaks, when assessing school readiness, Mrs. Boswell evaluates maturity in this area as highly as mastery of academic skills. This is something to focus on developing if you are preparing your child at home yourself to begin their academic career.

#3 Practice Inspiration – Help Students Stay Engaged with Your Excitement for Learning

There are times during schooling at home when as a parent, despite trying every best practice, you feel drained and can’t bring your best to each school day. “When you feel that way,” Mrs. Boswell said, “you are not inspired.  These are times to stop and ask ‘What can I do to bring inspiration to the day?’” 

She encouraged parents to think about creative ideas to discuss and explore the curriculum with their children. Learning should be happening all the time including during walks in the park, while making dinner, and at the store.

For those in classical schools like The Oaks, she added, “Don’t lose the mystery and the wonder of the rich curriculum.” You may want to add to something covered in the Bible lesson or take more time on a read-along to explore the ideas and make connections.

“The parent can develop those higher-level thinking skills in a way that is not possible in a large group of very young students,” she shared. “Parents often think of school as just learning letters and numbers. It’s more than that – it’s learning about how the world works, learning about God, and learning about relationships. Learning basic skills is easy but how to wonder, how to make connections, how to create curiosity… those are the hard things.”

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