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Is your child ready for the restart of school?

A “must read” for parents with young children……

Is your child ready for Kindergarten, .and what could be one of the most restrictive restarts to school ever? Do they get along well with others? Can they sit still, listen to and follow directions, and keep their hands to themselves?

Onegaishimasu, Your child’s start in school is HUGE! It will have a tremendous influence on their early success and development in the school system and how soon teachers can transition your child from a social, to an academic based curriculum.

While teaching 100s of preschoolers and kindergarteners over the last 18 years, we have discovered one critical key to success for not only school, but for the rest of their lives…..If your child is ahead of their peers they will stay ahead and love school. Kids who struggle or start off behind their peers almost never catch up and like school much less.

While no one knows exactly what the restart to school will look like exactly, certainly Covid and the new social practices for safety will play a significant role in the education and preparation of our children this September and their return to the classroom. This has the potential to introduce drastic changes in the expectations for acceptable behaviour in the classroom, which is why children really need to have these skills BEFORE they start JK, SK, and Grade 1 this September.

Along with the inevitable new classroom policies and expectations, we will still have children falling behind and being inaccurately “labeled” as unable to focus, hyperactive or extremely shy. We have wonderful teachers in our elementary schools and they do a terrific job educating young children on social skills, however, because of the new restrictions and policies they may not have the resources to teach the basic behavioural and social skills to your child effectively, which could inevitably delay their full transition to academic based learning..

The missing skills we are talking about are centered around “Self-Regulation.” Schools are also calling this “SEL” or Social Emotional Learning. Self-regulation is the ability to monitor and manage emotions, thoughts and behaviours.It’s what helps children focus their attention on learning when they might be distracted by others, upset by a problem or excited about an upcoming event.

These skills are not just required for success in young children. Later they help teens and adults resolve conflict, problem solve, think independently, participate and get along with others. When humans are first born, they have little control of their reaction to their emotions and feelings for good reason. When they are hungry or uncomfortable they cry. As they get older they need to be able to regulate their response and not just react to their emotions. For example, when they get mad they cannot just hit others. Or, when they are playing with others they may need to share when they do not want to. They may have to focus and listen while being distracted.

So how do you help your child? Just copy what we do. At our karate school, we like to use the term “accelerating their lives.” Often these skills just need more practice! We intentionally put cues into every class and every lesson so your child can develop these essential success skills.  Our Black belt listener cue (Black belts listen with their…Eyes, ears, and body) is a great example, as is “feet together set” Both of these are specifically designed to centre your child’s attention,  draw their hands and arms into their own body and focus their mind on who is speaking.

So here is what you can do at home. Intentionally look for experiences that practice self-regulating skills.

* Gradually introduce them to more complex distractions., and frustrating emotional situations that encourage learning and growth. Expose them to stress, failure and hardship regularly.

* Have your child work with a partner and on a team, like a sister or brother.

* Get them involved with making decision and making choices. * Place them in situations where they have to help others,and then eventually in leadership positions.

The list is endless…Use your imagination and draw something up that fits your home and family culture.

Anyways, I hope this helps, and like I always tell our parents “You only get one chance to start kindergarten or first grade!” and this year will be one of the most challenging EVER!!

Have an amazing week Sensei Chris

Keiko Karate – “Actually we do make Ninjas and Superheroes here………………we turn kids into Ninjas and we turn their parents into their superheroes!”

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