By Jennifer Burkart

We now know that a child’s social and emotional readiness is a better predictor of future school/life success than a child’s ability to recite letters or bang away at math problems. So how do we support this at home? These tips are aimed at parents and caregivers of incoming kindergarteners, but those with older kids can benefit from them as well.

Prioritize Your Self-care Only a well-regulated adult can help a child. Get in that hike, meditate, prioritize sleep — whatever it takes to ensure that you are in the right place yourself to begin working with your child, full stop.

Learn About Your Child This is a great opportunity to pay close attention to who your child really is as a human in this very moment — what strengths do they have and how can you incorporate these into their day and learning? This could be in terms of their language or culture, or what they love to do. Do they enjoy building, nurturing plants, or drawing stories? What do they love?  And ask what they want to try next.

Encourage Play Play is essential to child development. Allowing children to play is how they work through trauma or stress, discover new things, and process their everyday learning and experiences.

Feelings Are Facts  It is important that our children feel safe to share their big emotions with us. Caregivers can support by helping children name or label the feeling. Only after calming down can we discuss strategies such as deep breathing or taking breaks. 

Modeling is Key Modeling our own resilience through a growth mind-set will support our children’s reactions to difficulty. When that password doesn’t work and you have to run off to your own meeting — try to think of this as an opportunity to teach and model how we can react. Positive self-talk such as, “Well, this didn’t work, but I know we can figure it out together.” Resilience truly is the hidden curriculum this year.

Jennifer Burkart is an Instructional Specialist in the Beaverton School District, Adjunct Professor for Lewis & Clark College & Founder of PDX Literacy Consultants.  In her work, she coordinates PreK-2 curriculum and instruction, specializes in effective reading intervention systems and designs staff development experiences.  When not on a Zoom call, she can be found surfing, hiking, rafting or camping around the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her husband and three children.  Best reached at [email protected]

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