Welcome to Educated, Common Sense Parenting! This is my parenting education/commentary blog. Start here and read About This Blog.

I believe too many parents today have let their children rule their households. Their children dictate their daily lives, demand every ounce of their attention and do not show any respect for their parents. This needs to change. The only way to do this is if parents start letting good old common sense start dictating their parenting practices and stop letting their children run the show. You're the parent. Act like one.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Ready for School? Part I

As Brooke gets ready to enter to first "school" experience (preschool!), I've been thinking a lot lately about what I have done to prepare her for this experience.

Some people are adamantly against teaching children at this age any "academic" skills. The argument is, children need to be free to explore their world, letting self discovering be main focus of learning. I don't completely subscribe to that theory and am not against teaching your preschooler academic skills. You can get into heated debates about flashcards and those "Teach my Baby to Read" DVD's. I am neutral on this--I think it is really up to how comfortable parents feel with this sort of thing. Remember friends, the keyword here is balance. Common sense. Don't have your 2 year all spending 3 hours a day with flashcards and teaching him to read. He's a BABY. Let him be one! On the other hand, you cannot completely disregard "academics." since little ones are such sponges at this age it would be a shame not to capitalize on it a little bit! Not to mention, too much "self-discovery" can lead to some not-so-productive behavior as well!

Gary Ezzo's book Preschoolwise, outlines the top "school readiness" skills that children should have before entering kindergarten. Although there are many specific learning skills you should be responsible for teaching your child such as math readiness and reading readiness (more on those in a later post), he stresses that the MOST important skills are not academic in nature. They are "skills" are are absolutely essential to to create a solid foundation for learning, however are often overlooked when parents begin preparing their child for Kindergarten. As a teacher, I have to agree with him on all of these wholeheartedly:

1) Sleep
2) Structure and Routine
3) Attention Span
4) Focusing

I will go over the first two in this blog:

1) The Sleep Factor: This is crucial, yet not taken seriously by many parents. I feel like most parents UNDERSTAND their child's need for sleep, however they are not willing to make the sacrifices that might be needed to protect their child's sleep. All new parents can understand how vital sleep is to their overall functioning throughout the day. When I have restless, interrupted sleep and wake up super exhausted, I am a completely different person. A spilled glass of milk can put me over the edge. When I am well rested, I don't even think twice about those things! Think about your child trying to concentrate all day in school not having slept well! Yes, he WILL be the "problem child!" Marc Weisbluth, author of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child did a study of 2,700 children with superior intelligence. The common link between them all? They all experienced healthy nighttime sleep!

Every person and every child has different "optimal" sleep requirements. Some of us can power through and do great on less sleep. Others like myself, need 8 hours to be at peak performance. The sleep recommendations for school aged children is 10-11 hours a night. For preschoolers it's 11-13 hours. My daughter is on the low end of this at about 11.5-12 hours each night. I am guessing from the way my son is, he will be on the high end. Kid needs his shut eye! Find your child's OPTIMAL sleep time and do whatever it takes to protect it. Your child's teacher will thank you :-)

2) Structure and Routine: Preschoolers and school aged children do their best when they have consistency, predictability and boundaries. When limits are set at home (no, you cannot stay up as late you want and no, you cannot have every Barbie you see at Target), your child will have a much easier time adjusting to the many limits they will be exposed to during school. We all have busy lives but some sort of routine or structure can do wonders for a child. Even if it's just laying with them and reading stories for 15 minutes every night. That is something they can look forward to and expect. It gives a calm end to the day and a chance for you to spend quality time with your little one.

I will go over the last two skills, attention span and focusing next week.

1 comment:

  1. Totally agree. We subscribe to:

    1. Running home like banshees to ensure Jillian gets her nap(s) in -- and no, we don't like for her to nap in the stroller; she doesn't get a good rest and we pay for it later. We will make exceptions but never two days in a row. It's kind of like allowing yourself to whoop it up for night but not two consecutive nights; you'd be a mess!

    2. Bath, Bottle, Book, Bed. It works for us and she knows what to expect.