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Nord Anglia International School: Is your child ready for kindergarten?

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‘Being ready’ is not about a set of skills you need to make sure your child has before they start kindergarten. It is about preparing your child for this next transition in their lives so you can ensure that kindergarten is a positive and enriching experience for them.

At Nord Anglia International School, we know that children develop best when they feel safe and secure. Our pre-schools create a caring and happy environment where a child believes that they are capable of anything. We also believe that building a strong relationship with the family supports the child’s development in all areas and we love doing this.

Language skills
Being able to express ourselves and be understood is very powerful. To develop your child’s language skills, you can support them by modelling simple sentences and phrases that they can imitate and use. Encourage them to express their needs verbally, using these modelled phrases.

Be sure to engage in ‘real’ conversations with your child, where you take turns to talk and listen to one another. This will help your child understand the function of language and the joy of a reciprocal exchange.

Social skills
Many young children entering kindergarten may still be in the egocentric stage (concerned only for their own needs) and they will need support to prepare them for companionship (becoming aware of others and their needs and feelings). You can help to prepare them by visiting parks, play areas and places where they share the space with other children.

To develop your child’s social skills, play simple games that require turn taking and sharing, and model turn taking and consideration. Talk about feelings and emotions and look at pictures of what the feelings may look like in others. Praise your child when they listen and recognise the feelings and needs of others.

Independence skills
It’s important to develop some practical self-help skills with your child to prepare them for kindergarten. Can they get dressed and go to the bathroom by themselves? Can they cope without you for part of the day? Can they ask for help if they need it?

Remember, a kindergarten’s role is to nurture and teach your child, in partnership with you, so if your child cannot do the above perfectly, a good kindergarten will understand
its role to continue to develop these self-help skills.

Emotional readiness
Emotional development is another key consideration as your child approaches kindergarten age. Consider the following questions and talk them through with your child’s teacher before they start kindergarten: How does your child deal with frustrations? Can they comfortably spend time apart from you? How do they like to be comforted? How do they approach new people and new tasks?

When the big day finally arrives, do not rush the settling period. Allow your child time to get to know their teachers and carers and become familiar with the environment
and the new routines that will be structuring their day.

If your child is not used to being separated from you, gradually increase the separation time, making those periods manageable – your child will soon come to realise that you always return. And never underestimate the power of your child seeing you building a relationship with their teacher. When your child sees you trusting the adults in the setting, they will often follow suit.

Lastly, be mindful that the kindergarten teacher should be asking you lots of questions, so they can get to know your child and how best to support them. This information helps a teacher respond individually to a child, thus supporting them to feel safe and secure.

FIND IT: Nord Anglia International School Hong Kong has campuses in Lam Tin, Tai Tam and Sai Kung. Contact 3958 1428, www.nais.hk

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