For most, preschool will be your child’s first real foray out into real society. They will be expected to coexist, play and learn with fellow children around their age. For many children, they are able to assimilate into a preschool environment seamlessly and they learn, play and socialize with their fellow childcare mates effortlessly. For some parents, they may observe that their child will have difficulties or hangups when it comes to attending their preschool classes. Their child may be anxious, unwilling to play with others, or may tend to cry or reject the idea of attending classes. This is completely understandable as every child is different and reacts to a social environment differently.
At First Steps Preschool @ Yishun, we believe that helping your children become socialized is one of our major objectives. We believe in creating a safe and secure environment for your children where they do not feel under threat and can learn to express themselves individually, first with the guidance of adult facilitators and finally on their own accord.
Prepare your children with basic social decorum
Let’s get real – your pre-schooler is far too young to have a deep understanding of social niceties! However, it’s never too early to get them started. Simple things like greeting their teachers and friends – saying thank you, or waiting their turn to do things, or simply being gracious or nice to others, these are all within your preschooler’s early social playbook.
When they enter preschool, children are usually used to playing by themselves and maybe their siblings. This drastically changes once they enter preschool – toys and playing facilities now become a shared resource and they will be expected to take turns and share. This is a great chance for them to learn how to behave graciously with one another. Do not be too harsh to your child if they don’t initially know how to play with others. It is inevitable that there will be a little bit of fighting especially given this is a completely new concept to them – always remain patient and try to help your child understand that they have to learn to be unselfish and gracious to their classmates and friends.
Simple playdates are a great introduction to socializing
As with all young parents, we all face similar struggles in getting our pre-schoolers socialized. Hence, before thrusting them into the large group classes of a preschool, having smaller playdates in groups of 2-4 can actually be a great introduction for our children into the basics of socializing and playing together. These could be with the children of other young parents, or their cousins or even at a local community playground or playpen. Getting the opportunity to meet with and play with other children in their age group will be a great step forward for children in order to get them acclimatized to playing with and socializing with others.
Never punish unnecessarily
It can be oftentimes necessary to discipline our children even at a preschool age when they misbehave. Some parents may also naturally be authoritative and demand that their children behave in a certain way. If their demands are not met, these children are often reprimanded, chided or shamed in some way or another.
Research has shown that such an authoritarian way of disciplining our children may not be the best way forward for their overall development. This methodology of raising kids has been linked to the development of certain anger and behavioural issues and this can greatly affect the way that our children socialize with one another. Being punished constantly can encourage your children to create very poor bonds with others and not develop fulfilling and strong friendships with their peers.
Especially in a social setting, by reprimanding your child too harshly, it can make them severely self-conscious and can stunt their ability to express themselves in a group environment. Always remain calm and patient with your children regardless of setting and remind yourself that when they make mistakes, it is largely a learning journey where your guidance is sorely needed.
Cooperate, don’t compete
Do not misinterpret the message of this section – healthy competition is indeed extremely important in the development of a children’s mind and body! However, when taken into the context of a pre-schooler who is struggling socially, it is prudent to encourage your pre-schooler to view his or her classmates as allies and not as competitors just yet. Hence, activities that have a cooperative goal (for example, building a castle with blocks) should be encouraged for students who may not be socially adjusted, compared to activities with a competitive goal (for example, seeing who can build the largest castle in a short period of time).
In a study, researchers found that not allowing children to have toys that might create unhealthy competition (for example, toy guns or toy swords) can have a positive effect on the overall social wellness of the group. While eventually, we all want our children to gain the confidence to compete with one another in a healthy way, it is often best to ease our pre-schoolers into this experience once they are ready and have been equipped adequately with the right skills and experience.
First Steps Preschool @ Yishun
6 Yishun Industrial Street 1
#01-07/08 Northview Bizhub