For the next few posts in our Before Five in a Row series we’re going to talk about some building blocks we want to be sure we put in place during these precious preschool years. First, what do we mean when we talk about a “preschooler?” Obviously, the words literally suggest a season in our child’s life beforehe begins schooling.
But these few, precious preschool years are so much more than just a season of waiting for school to begin.
This is a special season when we have the opportunity to prepare our child for the life long adventure of learning; when we can equip him with the tools he’ll need to tackle learning successfully. We can use these years before formal schooling begins to carefully evaluate our child’s pre-school preparation and reinforce any weak areas in his foundation. Like a building inspector, we’re examining how well we have laid a foundation for our child in family identity and in learning readiness.
A Strong Foundation
Every child needs to develop a strong sense of family identity and intimacy. This vital foundation springs naturally from time spent together. Your family may read aloud together, play or listen to music, visit art galleries and museums, play games, sports or any of a thousand other activities. When families do activities together, children experience a closeness, and a sense of belonging-identity.
Family identity is foundational for a preschooler. Before a child can fully take in the wonders of the infinite world around him, he must be secure in his understanding of who he is and his world. You might tell your child, “We’re the Smiths and we…” Now complete the sentence with any of a thousand endings. You might say, “…always sing together in the car,” or “…never forget to put away our games when we’re finished playing.” You might remind them “We always open one present on Christmas eve before we go to bed.” Or “We always pray before we serve our plates.” This type of family dialogue continually reinforces your child’s place in the world. He is a Smith. The Smiths do things a certain way, have certain values and important traditions.
Another wonderful way to build family identity and intimacy is by reading aloud together as a family. When you read good books with your child, you each know the same characters, plots and conclusions. You both will find yourselves referring to such topics with a “Remember when…,” or “Isn’t this a funny mess, just like in last night’s bedtime story when…”
Make a special effort to create your own family legends. By telling and retelling certain family stories, your child will develop a solid foundational identity that frees him to explore the big world beyond home. Sports loving families can reminisce about the greatest hit of the ball game or dad’s famous slide into third base. These simple family legends build identity. Everyone in the family is included, and everyone has a part to play. Children feel they belong to a unique, special, identifiable family with clear sets of rules, expectations, traditions, legends and shared memories.
Building foundations during these early years is so critical to your child’s development! Watch the next few weeks as we talk more about learning readiness, emotional maturity, physical fitness and spiritual fitness. I can’t wait to share more with you!