Preschool Social & Cognitive Development

Pre-school age is so important for cognitive development. It’s a time in which powerful habits can be formed and so this guide is to help you to encourage the right ones, while saying goodbye to negative behavior

Kindergarten

Kindergarten is a great way for your child to learn how to get along with other children and will help them learn the vital social skills that are important for life. You might be successful in improving your little one’s language and numerical abilities at home through maths and reading activities, but kindergarten will teach social and communication skills that will enable them to become more proficient in cooperating with, talking to and playing with others. Starting kindergarten is a major milestone for your child and you can prepare them for it in many ways. Here are the best ways to get your child ready for their enrollment in their first year of school.

Undertake some pre-school visits

You can help your child come to terms with what to expect by making some pre-school visits. This will allow them to become familiarised with the building and the nature of the school day. You can liaise with the staff about suitable times to call in. Many schools hold official orientation programmes for pre-kindergartners, but you can also supplement this with more informal ones. Consider taking them at different times during the school day, so that they can see children arriving at and leaving the school with their parents or with the school bus. Taking them to the school’s playground during the playtime recess will allow them to see the children playing with each other. Taking them to the playground at the weekend will enable them to try out the play equipment there. The idea of these informal visits is to help them with their expectations and to enable them to feel more comfortable with the day-to-day routine of going to school.

Encourage your child’s social life

Most of your child’s school day will be occupied with working and playing with other children, learning how to relate to others through communication and sharing. Children who adapt the most easily to this environment are those who are already comfortable working in groups. If your child has been in preschool, they are most probably adept in this area. If not, you can introduce them to groups by enrolling them in activities such as dancing or music classes. You can also take them to playgrounds, parks and other public recreation places where they can meet other children and learn to socialise with them. Inviting other children around for play dates can also help them to get used to socialising with others. Likewise, taking them to children’s parties where children’s games are being played will help them to improve their peer interactions – if they are reluctant to participate at first it might be because they don’t know the rules, so you can practice playing party games at home with them to build their confidence.

Expand their cognitive abilities

You can increase your child’s mental abilities informally at home. For example, when laying the table for a meal, you can ask them to count out the total number of knives, forks and spoons being used. When travelling to the shops, play a game with them to see who can count the most cars of a specific colour. Once in the grocery store, you can ask in them what letters the various items in your trolley begin with. When you arrive home and are unpacking your bags, see if they can place the items in alphabetical order, or find all the items that begin with a specific letter. You can assist with their development of spatial awareness by asking them to arrange the same items in order of their size. When it comes to teaching concepts, you can encourage your child to express themselves more clearly by using prepositions, such as ‘behind,’ ‘above,’ ‘after’ and ‘before.’  You can show examples of these concepts; such as by playing a ‘hide and seek’ game using toys that are hidden behind, underneath and on top of furnishings in your home. In these simple ways, you can hHow to Win and Lose Graciouslyelp your child develop the skills they need to begin kindergarten.

Boost their reading skills

Most experts advise against using pre-kindergarten workbooks that are available on the market. Instead, you can foster your child’s love of language by reading them stories regularly throughout the day and at nighttime before bed.  You can help to expand their vocabulary and imagination by encouraging them to tell you stories, perhaps using their toys as props for their narration. Ensure that you have a ready supply of books with pictures placed together with their toys in their toy box to help promote the idea that reading is fun. Colouring books that have a story-line with words can also help develop their imagination and word identification skills.

Encourage their fine motor skills

The development of fine motor skills is vital before your child enters kindergarten, as this paves the way for your child to master the ability of writing. You can help them with these skills by encouraging them to draw using a pad and fine-nib colouring pencils, as opposed to thicker crayons. Ask them to create small patterns and shapes – this will help to develop their fine motor coordination and will help them to develop the muscles in their fingers. Playing games that involve smaller counters, such as board games that involve rolling dice and moving tokens, will also help promote dexterity and hand-eye coordination.