Raising considerate and responsible citizens is a job that starts early.
When kids enter school, it is the time when their personalities will really begin to develop and the lessons that they’ve learned can start to shine through. Thus, one large part of kindergarten prep is simply getting your child ready for the social aspect of school.
Raising Respectful Children as Part of Kindergarten Prep
Many parents are driven to ensure that their youngsters have the best possible start. They want their kids to have good fine motor skills for effectively handling writing implements. They want them to have the ability to write their names, recognize letters and letter sounds, and have a conceptual understanding of counting and basic math systems.
As a result, many kids enter their first year of elementary school with well-developed reading, writing, and counting skills. Some have even learned sign language or have become proficient in a spoken second language.
Sadly though, there is often little effort to develop social skills that are appropriate for the standard learning environment.
The surest way to teach a child respect is by showing your little one the same level of respect.
This means defining an area of personal space and teaching your little one to honor that space and expect that same honor from others.
It also means listening when your child is talking and allowing him or her to have differences of opinion. You can still maintain authority in your home, without squelching your child’s personality or undermining the right to a personal opinion. This is how children learn that is okay to agree to disagree.
Disagreeing on a small or major issue does not eliminate the ability to get along. For children, minor disagreements can seem like huge things and this makes it difficult for them to engage in their own form of conflict resolution.
When parents accept, honor, and allow differences of opinion at home it becomes much easier for children to accept the idea of allowing differences of opinion in their social lives.
This can be done by carefully explaining your reasoning, listening to your child’s reasoning, and then affirming your position. You can congratulate him or her on having well-thought-out ideas and then explain that because you are older and have more knowledge, in most cases your way of doing things is the accepted one.
By honing these skills in your children, you may find that there are times when their ideas are the better of the two. By allowing your child to ‘win’ a debate every now and then, he will gain confidence in his ability to express his opinions in a thoughtful and respectful manner.
Acceptance of differences of opinion is also good for teaching kids to be accepting of differences in appearance. This will make them more tolerant of other cultures, as well as more understanding and compassionate towards children who are differently-abled. With the right attitude, a child can become a role model for other children.
One major issue that tends to rear its head in parenting is the tendency to award behaviors that are not acceptable. Kids are inherently cute, especially when they are your own, but this does not mean that their actions are going to be appreciated by everyone.
Try to set the standard for acceptable behavior in your home at a level that mirrors what teachers might expect. For instance, teaching children about using their inside voices, not speaking over others, and not putting their feet on chairs are simple lessons that can prevent a lot of problems in the classroom environment.
Although it’s important to take into account a child’s age and developmental ability when considering acceptable behaviors, a good rule of thumb is to ask yourself, “Will this behavior still be cute when my child is a teenager?” If the answer is no, you can begin teaching your child the basic skills for appropriate behaviors.
By starting early in teaching your child how to be a respectful and responsible citizen, your child will not only be academically ready to begin kindergarten; he will be socially ready as well.