When we hear the term “school readiness,” the first thing most people think of is children knowing academic basics that will help them meet the demands of the classroom. And while these cognitive skills are important, many teachers feel that skills in the other areas of child development are just as, or more important. Social, emotional, and physical skills are also essential to the success of a child in school. Preparing children this way helps them enter a classroom feeling secure.
Teachers play an important role in helping develop the whole child while at the same time, teaching cognitive skills that will lead to academic success. For that to happen, however, children must have a good foundation in the areas of social, emotional, and physical development. Amy Graham of Charles Darwin University conducted a study and found that 45% of the teachers she interviewed were more concerned with a child’s confidence, independence, and self-regulation skills when entering the classroom. Studies from the UK have had the same findings. As one teacher said, “We can teach them to write their name, but it’s important to have kids who can function in the classroom.”
This information is powerful for parents to know. While they generally focus on cognitive skills when they prepare their child for school, there are many other things parents do, unintentionally, in their day-to-day routines. Things such as teaching kindness and respect to others, encouraging children to follow simple instructions, and playing to improve motor skills are just a few. Another important thing that children learn from their parents is self-regulation. Managing thoughts and feelings is a big undertaking for a child but they can learn this easily by having their parents as role models for appropriate responses. The key to instilling these things is by creating more purposeful opportunities for learning so their readiness in these areas is greater.
One of the best ways to do this is by giving children a chance to experience life outside of the home and away from family for periods of time. This increases their confidence and helps them be more comfortable when it’s time to attend school. The Gentle East Martial Arts Early SKILLZ program provides that type of experience. The program is a game-based martial arts system that is grounded in child development. This cutting-edge, 4D approach encompasses the physical, intellectual, emotional, and social development of children. What better way for a child to prepare for school than by participating in a program based on the developmental needs of children.
The best part of the SKILLZ system is that it is divided up by age groups from 18 months to 14 years old. More specially, in relation to school readiness, the Mini SKILLZ (18 to 36 months) and the Early SKILLZ (3-4 years old) are top-notch in preparing children for success in school. Each class focuses on the four developmental stages that were designed precisely for that age. Therefore, Mini SKILLZ students learn skills such as following, listening and sharing, while Early SKILLZ students work on higher-level skills. These skills build on each other and each level provides a foundation for the next.
Helping young children prepare for their first day of school doesn’t happen overnight. Providing them with consistent, purposeful experiences that support their overall development, early on, will get them started on the road to school readiness. Doing this in a game-based, nurturing environment that focuses on developing the whole child, will set the stage for an easier adjustment to school and the classroom environment.
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Author: Jennifer Salama of Skillz Worldwide. Edited by Master Eric Rangel-Ribeiro
Jennifer is a 4th-degree black belt and has been training in martial arts since 2001. She has a Master’s Degree in Child Psychology and has embraced the SKILLZ curriculum because of its focus on child development and using martial arts as a vehicle to develop the child as a whole.