Kindergarten Readiness – Social Skills
There are many different theories on what a child needs to be successful in kindergarten. At the preschool level we strive to make sure that each child is ready for the adjustment to a new school, new teacher and new friends. Our goal is to make sure that each child walks away from our program with the skills needed to not just be successful in kindergarten, but for years to come.
In my eighteen years in the field of early childhood education one skill has remained consistent among kindergarten readiness and that is a child’s social skills. Social skills involve not only a child’s ability to get along with others, but their ability to be independent.
How Giggle Gang fosters social skills:
- Eating family style – By giving the children the opportunity to serve themselves and make decisions about what they are eating we are fostering their independence.
- Encouraging conversations – There are times throughout the day where the teacher will start a conversation with a group of children and then sit back to see where it goes. By doing this they are fostering the skill of communication. The children learn to both share, but also listen to what others have to say. During these conversations the children have the opportunity to express their opinions, feelings and favorite things.
- Classroom rules – At the beginning of every school year the children sit down with the teacher and create a list of classroom rules and the consequences for disregarding a rule. These rules are revisited throughout the year as new children enter the classroom, or the need for an adjustment to the rules is deemed necessary. This gives the children a sense of ownership over the classroom and teaches them the reasons behind rules, and the importance of following them.
- Conflict resolution – Each classroom has a system for handling conflict between the children. This system shows the children how to be respectful of each other while voicing their concerns and feelings. As the year progresses the teacher slowly pulls away from mediating the conflict as the children become more proficient at coming to resolutions on their own.
- Centers – During the day the children have a period of time called choice time. During this time they have access to several of the centers within the classroom. They are given the choice of where they would like to “work” during this time. Each center is equipped to hold up to four children at a time. When there are too many children at the center the children have the opportunity to sign up to be next. This teaches the children patience and the importance of waiting their turn. Sometimes this can be difficult in the beginning, but as the year progresses the children become used to waiting their turn and are observant to where there is room to participate while they are waiting.
- Interactions – Our teachers spend the majority of their time interacting with the children in their classroom. The teachers participate with the children while letting them lead their play. During these times the teacher becomes a model for the children as she shares, converses and follows the directions of others.
Over the next few weeks I will be delving into the other skills that have been proven to be conducive to kindergarten success and how we incorporate these skills into the children’s everyday learning so that they are ready to be a success in kindergarten and beyond.