Children need a combination of many qualities and skills to succeed in school. Parents are instrumental in this development. Necessary qualities and skills include social and emotional maturity, language skills, good health and physical well-being, problem-solving abilities, creative thinking skills and general knowledge about the world.
Other social and emotional skills and qualities children need at school include the ability to get along with other children and with adults, to share attention with other children and to adjust to a daily classroom routine. Parents can help their children develop social and emotional maturity in a number of ways.
- Parents have a positive attitude toward school. Children have a natural desire to discover and explore. If parents express excitement about school and learning, their children will be excited about school and learning. Parents need to talk enthusiastically about all the school activities their children will experience at school.
- Parents set a good example. Children imitate what they hear and see. It is critical that parents remember this and be good role models for children about discovery, learning and school.
- Parents help their children feel secure about love and caring, no matter what. Children need their parents to show they care. They will thrive when parents and other caregivers dependably and continually show love and affection. Plenty of one-on-one attention, hugs and encouragement go a long way in helping children feel loved, cared for and confident.
- Parents let their children do many things for themselves. Children learn to be independent and confident by doing tasks for themselves. Letting children dress themselves and put away toys are great early activities for developing independence. Also critical is allowing children to make choices, rather than parents deciding everything for them. Remember to give children choices only when there really is a choice.
- Parents encourage their children to play with other children and allow opportunities for them to be with adults who are not family members. Young children need social opportunities. Experiences around other people who are not family members will help children get along with classmates and teachers.
- Parents use appropriate discipline and guidance with young children. All children need limits set for them. Research shows that children who have parents who are loving but firm in their guidance are more socially adept and experience greater success in school.
- Parents provide opportunities for repetition. Children need practice in developing skills. Additionally, unlike adults, very young children do not get bored when they repeat things. Allowing children to repeat successful experiences builds their confidence and gives them courage to try new things.
Parents are the first and most important teachers of children. They can help provide opportunities for children to begin to develop these important life qualities.