One of my favorite mental pictures of my preschool daughter is her tiny little body crouched down, looking intently at something she had discovered on the ground. Her chubby little fingers exploring her world and seeking to gather new information.

A child’s curiosity and desire to learn is innate and all we have to do as parents is nurture and cultivate these attitudes. When we develop “soft” skills, such as kindness, selflessness, and obedience, then preschoolers will be able to effectively contribute to their classroom community.  When we incorporate these things into the culture of our home, we foster a readiness to learn in any environment, including a structured classroom. 

Encourage Curiosity and Problem Solving

The endless questions of a child can be exhausting, but the need to make sense of the world is what drives those inquiries. When we answer those questions with questions of our own, we help to get our children to work through some of the answers themselves.

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We encourage children to think critically and problem solve. By guiding them through a difficult task with suggestions and strategies—instead of doing it for them—we are teaching them to become confident in their own abilities.

Encourage Kindness and Selflessness

These soft skills can be hard for anyone, but particularly for children who feel they are the center of the universe.

When you encourage your child to share toys, you are helping her to see outside herself and will teach her to think of others first. For example, after picking up our 3 year-old from a friend’s house, we try to ask her how she was a kind and loving friend instead of asking if she had fun.  Of course, we want her to have fun, but we also want to emphasize a selfless attitude towards friends.

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Teach them why we need to listen and follow directions

We all want our children to listen and obey, but we believe it should go beyond just a desired behavior; it involves courteousness, selflessness, and a respect for others.

In school and in life, it’s important for them to know that there are authority figures that strive to take care of them and do what’s best for them. We want our children to understand that there are rules to help things run smoothly and to keep people safe.

Part of teaching obedience is setting clear boundaries with clear consequences, and then consistently following through with consequences for bad decisions (and praise for good decisions!).

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Additionally, a child shouldn’t be labeled as a bad person if they make a bad choice or decision. Instead, when children make a bad decision, they have the ability to be brought back into a right relationship once the inappropriate behavior is addressed. 

Teachers will be able to teach developmentally appropriate academic skills to children who are kind, respectful, and ready to learn. Regardless of academic aptitude or existing knowledge, a child who demonstrates these soft skills and attitudes will succeed in school.

For more advice on how to get your Children ready for Kindergarten, you can read these articles:

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Jeff & Annie Wiesman

Dr. Jeff & Annie Wiesman are coauthors of “Education Begins at Birth: A Parent’s Guide to Preparing Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers for Kindergarten.” Jeff is an associate professor of education who mentors future elementary school teachers, and Annie has numerous years of experience teaching preschool, kindergarten, and first grade. They reside in New York with their five-year-old daughter.



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