Executive Functioning Skills for School Success

Multi-tasking seems to be the norm of the everyday lifestyle. When you think about it, in order to multi-task, your brain needs to be able to focus on two different types of stimuli, organize two sets of information, plan for two different motor movements and remember two sets of “to-do” lists. Sounds like a lot of work! The ability for your brain to do this is possible with executive functioning skills. Executive Functioning Skills or School SuccessExecutive functioning skills are the higher-level brain skills that allow a person to complete tasks throughout the day. These skills include memory, initiation, inhibition/impulse control, shift, and organization. Executive functioning is best understood by listing specific skills, however, it is not a unitary skill. Often times, these skills build upon one another and are used in conjunction to complete complex tasks.

School places executive functioning demands on children on a daily basis; from reviewing the daily schedule to written work. Some children find the school day to be more cumbersome due to difficulty in utilizing one or more executive functioning skills. When these executive functions are not working effectively, the individual, despite strong abilities, can experience significant problems in many aspects of learning, getting work done, social functioning, and self-esteem. These children, with or without an executive functioning or attentional difficulty diagnosis, can appear confused, become frustrated or angry easily, or refuse to complete work.

As the demands of school increase with each passing year, having well-developed executive functioning skills is critical to academic success. Below is an overview of each of the before mentioned executive functioning skills, along with, activities to help promote these skills at home.

Executive Functioning Skills Overview:

Executive Functioning Skill Definition Activities to Try
Memory Ability to retain and manipulate distinct pieces of information over short or long periods of time Sequential tasks of 3-5 steps with or without use of visual aides.Memory card games

Recall the events of the day in order from waking up to dinner time.

Initiation Ability to begin a task or activity and to independently generate ideas, responses, or problem-solving strategies. Utilize a “to-do” list of 3-5 items. This will encourage the completion of each task.Minimize distractions: encourage work to be completed in a specific location in the house with minimal visual and auditory distractions.

Create a weekly schedule for house-specific initiation of tasks (i.e., chores). Each day should have its own specific task to decrease the amount of demands presented.

Inhibition/Impulse Control Ability to stop one’s own behavior at the appropriate time, including stopping actions and thoughts. Teach social rules for a variety of settings: “When we walk into the store, first we will look at mommy’s list, and then we can look at bikes”.Redirect your child when they are interrupting you: “I am talking on the phone, I can talk to you as soon as I am done”.

Make sure to praise your child immediately after you direct your attention back to him.

Incorporate a fidget into daily activities, especially sedentary tasks, to provide a means to “get the wiggles out” without needing to flee from the task.

Shift Ability to move freely from one situation to another and to think flexibly in order to respond appropriately to the situation. Create a cognitive obstacle course: create 3 stations in which the child is to complete 3 different tasks (ex. gross motor, writing, puzzle) with 3 minutes dedicated to each station. Rotate between the stations until all 3 tasks are completed.Encourage multi-tasking in a structured manner. Sedentary tasks for multi-tasking can include a game-play scenario mixed with writing.

Use of a picture schedule to promote ease and regulation during transitions between activities.

Organization Ability to manage current and future-oriented task demands. OR Ability to impose order on work, play, and storage spaces. Create a “school ready” system to promote organization of school materials. This can be done in multiple ways: folders, binder system, use of a weekly planner.Use of graphic organizers for academic success: outline templates, Venn diagrams, idea webs, 3-5 step sequence graphs, main idea organizers.

Create a map of the school: utilize this map to establish a routine for navigating the hallways in an efficient and timely manner, including stops at either the bathroom or locker.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!


Transitioning from the Summer Months to the Academic School Year

Being home with my family last week meant spending a day with my 7-year old niece. I got to spend a hazy summer day snuggling and watching the latest Disney movies, playing with dolls, and completing an imaginative writing story. I would say my day was spent very well- a quintessential summer day!

As you sit and reminisce about the busy, sun soaked, laughter filled days, it is hard to imagine that summer is almost over. Many teachers are converting their summer schedules into school schedules and planning for the return of excited children.

You, as a parent, can also prepare yourself and your children for the return to school with these suggestions:

  1. Create a routine: Summer days can be filled with play dates, outings to local events, or dayTransition from Summer to School camp. However, setting your child up with a schedule for a month to two-weeks prior to the first day of school can be beneficial to establish responsibilities and a sense of time. Reset bed times and establish meal times that would mimic the meal times of the school year. Practice these routines on the weekends as well. Responsibilities that mimic “homework time” should be implemented in the evening routine- a simple writing task, quiet reading time, or a few worksheets to complete. (education.com provides a multitude of academic worksheets for all academic grades)
  2. Try to discourage day naps: Napping in the day, especially after school, can result in the establishment of inefficient sleep patterns. Typically, naps are phased out of the daily routine by the age of 5. Napping after school disrupts the nighttime routine by allowing a child to push off her fatigue, leading to alertness at inappropriate hours of the night. Establish a sleep/wake cycle prior to the start of school. This can also be encouraged with the simultaneous use of responsibilities and homework time that comes with a school year routine.
  3. For the first time first-grader: First grade is a lot of firsts! It is, in some cases, the start of a full day school schedule that is 5 days a week. It is also the first time you are leaving your child for such an extended period of time. If your child seems to experiencing “first day jitters”, validate them and establish a game-plan to address these concerns:

Create a special good-bye ritual. It can be a special hand shake, an extra tight hug, or a cool phrase. The good-bye ritual can become a part of the routine, signaling that it is ok to say bye to you and transition into school.

-Allow plenty of time to eat breakfast and get dressed. A time constraint with getting ready can lead to emotional distress. If your child requires an extra 5 minutes for socks, allow him this time, whether it be to wake up five minutes earlier or reduce “free time” in the morning.

-Allow your child to pick what he/she wants to wear to school. That little bit of independence in their day can provide essential learning opportunities for roles and responsibilities. Also, her attire should make her feel cool and special!

  1. Set-up a visit day: Do a trial run of the school atmosphere prior to the first day of school. This is a great opportunity to become familiar with the classroom, learn how to navigate to the gym, library or bathroom, and personalize your child’s cubby space/locker.
  2. Keep new hobbies going: Summer is an opportune time for a child to establish new likes and hobbies. Continue to encourage learning and refinement of newly learned skills through after school clubs, extra classes or community resources.

As much as your child loved summer vacation, she will love returning to school to see her friends on a daily basis. Help to build this excitement with discussion of what to expect at school this coming year and a fun count down!

Click here for tips on how to beat the back to school blues!

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!


back to school reading prep

Back to School Reading Prep


While it’s hard to believe that summer is already on its way out, many of you have probably been thinking about the new school year for some time now. As a parent, you want to be sure that your child retains skills from the previous school year and continues to progress during the summer. Being a good reader will positively affect all school subjects and is the basis for many facets of learning. As children progress in school they switch from learning to read, to reading to learn. If your child is behind in reading, this will greatly affect how and what they learn in other subject areas.

What are the best ways to prepare your child for reading in the new school year?

  1. Encourage reading: No matter what your end-of-summer activities are, find time to squeeze inBack to School Reading Prep some reading. Reading should always be a priority! Making crafts along with books is a great way to make reading more fun.
  1. Make it a routine: Have reading be a part of your daily routine to set an expectation for reading frequency. Children are more likely to read if they are exposed to books and reading on a consistent basis.
  1. Discuss vocabulary: Talk about words found in books, use the words in different ways, and give examples of what the word means. If a child understands what a word means, she is more likely to use it!
  1. Ask questions: Listen to your child read and ask questions about what they read and what is happening in the story. Ask why things happen and prompt your child to predict what is going to happen next.
  1. Use comprehension checkpoints: After your child reads a paragraph of a story or a page in a book, ask her what happened and ensure she understood what she just read.
  1. Be a good model: Monkey see, monkey do. If your child sees you reading, she will want to read too! Model a positive and encouraging attitude when it comes to reading.

Follow the above tips to set your child off on the right track for the new school year!

Click here for more tips on how to sneak in reading practice.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Adjusting to a New School Year With a Child With Autism

The new school year is just around the corner, and with the new school year comes changes for both children and parents. These changes can include new routines, new teachers, new classmates, and possibly a new school. Children with autism thrive on routine, so these changes may be more difficult for them. Below are some strategies to make this adjustment to the new school year go smoothly.

Strategies to Help Your Child with Autism Adjust to the New School Year:

  • Begin the new routine a few weeks or even a month early – This will allow your child to adjust to theHelp Your Child with Autism Adjust to School new bedtime and wake-up routine before the school year begins. Also include any dressing and eating routines that normally occur during the school year.
  • Create a visual schedule for your child to follow – This can help with daily routines such as dressing, eating, and bedtime routines.
  • If your child is going to a new school take a tour of the school and visit all the areas your child will go (classroom, lunch room, gym, bathroom, etc.).
  • Meet the teacher and classroom staff – This will allow your child to get acquainted with all of the people he will be working with during the school year. It also allow the staff to become familiar with the child and for you to ask any questions you may have about the upcoming school year.
  • Share important information with the teacher – Provide notes for the teacher which include any triggers that cause behaviors to occur, along with successful strategies on how to handle these behaviors. Also give a list of items/activities that can be used as reinforcers.
  • Keep open lines of communication between you and the teacher – Let your child’s teacher know from the beginning that you would like to have open communication and that you want to be informed of both issues/concerns as well as successes.
  • Allow for an adjustment period – Everyone takes time to adjust to new things. Allow time for both you and your child to adjust to the new school year, and remember to be patient with your child during his adjustment.

What to Expect When You Suspect Autism Download our free, 17-Page eBook

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

ADHD and School Success

ADHD and School Success

Even though it feels like summer has just begun for many in the Chicago area, it is not too early to begin preparing for success in the upcoming school year. We all want our children to be successful in school, especially those children with challenges with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Below are some helpful tips to prepare your child with ADHD for back to school time:

  • Review your child’s IEP or 504 Plan. Take a look at the current plan and consider which goals were met andADHD and School Success which areas still need to be addressed (click here for more on how to have a successful IEP meeting).
  • Organize school systems together. Head out to an office-supply store (with your child) and check out different ways to help your child with organization and time management. Be open-minded to trying different approaches.
  • Stock up on school supplies. Have fun picking out some of the child’s favorite items as well as some of the supplies you anticipate they may need (poster board, pens, protractors, etc.).
  • Consider this year’s after-school activities. Talk to the child about interests and activities for the school year. Build on what your child has done in the past and what activities they want to try.  Be creative and encourage him to not only try activities that enhance proven skills, but also ones he finds challenging.
  • Find a tutor or homework helper. If you foresee some areas of struggle reach out now for people to assist in the fall.
  • Make a calendar. In order to give your child a sense of control and have him more engaged in the process, talk about daily, weekly and monthly schedules.
  • Set goals together. Brainstorm goals for school. Focus on strengths and challenges.  Make goals attainable in order to empower the child.
  • Focus on the positive aspects of heading back to school. Discuss the areas your child is interested or excited about with regards to returning to school.
  • HAVE FUN! Make sure to spend quality time with your child this summer. Talk to them about their feelings about returning to school.  What are they looking forward to most? What fears or anxiety do they have?

Click here to read 8 ways to ease homework time stress.

ADHD Resource Center

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

child hates to read

Help! My Child Hates to Read

Reading homework and practice is a constant throughout a child’s educational career from the very beginning when a child is learning to read. Children need to practice reading for a variety of reasons, mainly to improve their own literacy skills, but also to be introduced to new vocabulary and concepts. Obviously, reading practice is important, but it is not always the easiest activity to complete in a child’s day, especially if he or she does not enjoy reading. Try these strategies to improving a child’s motivation to participate in reading activities.

Inspire your child to read with these tips:

  1. Let your child choose what he or she reads: If a child is not interested in reading a certainHelp! My Child Hates to Read book or story, it will only add to the negativity surrounding reading. Take your child to the library and give him or her the opportunity to explore various topics and pick something he or she is interested in. With added interest, comes increased motivation, which will ultimately lead to a more positive reading experience.
  1. EBooks: Try downloading a book on yours or the child’s iPad or computer. With the added flare of electronics, a child may be more motivated to complete his or her reading practice. Be sure to set boundaries with the child that no other activities or games should be completed on the iPad/computer during reading time.
  1. Family Reading Time: It can be difficult to get a child to separate him or herself from the rest of the family and afternoon activities to complete reading. Instead of having an individual expectation for one child, have the entire family sit down for their own respected reading time. This will help your child not feel so left out or discouraged when they are to complete their reading, instead it will be a family activity.
  1. Incentive Chart: Incentive charts work as a great motivational tool by giving the child something to work towards. Give your child a goal (e.g., 10 starts). You child can work towards that goal each time they complete their reading. Once the child earns the goal, they can then receive a motivating reward (e.g., getting a slurpee, a trip to the movie theater, etc.)
  1. Talk with your child: Have a discussion with your child about why he or she hates reading. It may be because it is hard for them. Be knowledgeable of the warning signs for a reading disorder, as your child may require additional support in this area. See the list of warning signs below and consult with your child’s teacher to get a better understanding for your child’s reading abilities:

Warning Signs of a Reading Disorder:

  • Dislike or avoidance of reading
  • Not understanding that words can be segmented (e.g., “cowboy” broken down is “cow” and “boy”).
  • Trouble with sound-letter relationships
  • Difficulty sounding out words
  • Difficulty understanding written and spoken language
  • Difficulty rhyming

Click here for more tips on how to get your child interested in reading.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

How to Have a Successful IEP Meeting

How to Have a Successful IEP Meeting

Do you approach IEP meetings with fear and dread?  Here are some quick IEP reminders to improve the process AND your confidence.

How to Have a Successful IEP Meeting:

  • EVERY child can learn and make progress.How to Have a Successful IEP Meeting
  • The “I” in IEP stands for individualized. Your child’s IEP must reflect your child.
  • Special Education is NOT a place. Special Education is the supports and services your child receives through his or her IEP.
  • On the IEP, Placement is NOT a location. Placement is the amount of time spent with special education services.
  • As you prepare for the meeting think about:
    • What has been accomplished?
    • What has worked well?
    • What needs more work?
    • What are my concerns? What are my child’s concerns?
  • Check the meeting notice. Make sure you know who is attending and their role in the process. If there is someone surprising on the list (such as a social worker when your child doesn’t receive social work services, call the case manager to find out the purpose of the person’s attendance).
  • Create a vision statement for your child’s life both now and for the future. Work backwards to determine what he needs to accomplish this school year in order to meet the long-term goals.
  • Gather supporting documents such as private evaluations, therapist notes, research-based articles relevant to your child’s situation, etc.
  • Determine if someone will be attending with you such as a private therapist, evaluator and/or advocate. If you are bringing someone, inform the school as soon as possible.
  • Ask for a draft copy of the IEP. Review it in relation to the past IEP(s) and determine if the goals are moving in an appropriate direction. Make a list of questions, concerns and suggestions.
  • The IEP should be specific, detailed and easily understandable by anyone – even to someone who is not a member of the current IEP Team.
  • Statements about your child’s Present Level of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance are critical parts of the IEP. They must be based on quantified data and be very specific.
  • Goals need to be logical, measurable, and relevant to your child, and based on data.
  • IEP teams should strive to reach a consensus. There is NO voting!
  • Stay focused. Don’t get sidetracked.
  • Ask for a break if you need one.
  • Lack of money and/or other resources does not exempt a school district from providing what a child needs.
  • Don’t leave the meeting without a copy of your child’s IEP and the District’s notes.
  • After the meeting, review the IEP notes and submit additional notes and/or corrections if the school notes do not reflect everything that was said and/or if they misrepresent what was said.
  • If you are unhappy with decisions that have been made, take steps to continue working with the school to ensure your child’s needs are being adequately addressed.

NSPT offers school advocacy services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Extended School Year (ESY): What Is It and How Do I know if My Child Needs It?

IEP teams are required to evaluate the need for Extended School Year (ESY) services correctly and fairly. However, there are no comprehensive eligibility criteria in the law, making the process somewhat vague and inconsistent across teams.  Following are some guidelines taken from IDEA and federal court decisions:

  1. ESY cannot be determined by any one single criterionExtended Summer Services

Following are several factors that the team can consider when determining the need for ESY services.  Regression/recoupment is the more common factor; however, schools must not use it as the ONLY factor.

  1. Regression/recoupment

Regression refers to a decline in knowledge and skills that can result from an interruption in education; recoupment is the amount of time it takes to regain the prior level of functioning. The question is whether or not the benefits gained by the child during the regular school year will be significantly jeopardized if he is not provided an educational program during the summer months. When considering regression/recoupment, teams must consider not only academic skills but also related services.  The key question is whether the child needs services in the summer in order to secure the minimum benefits of a free and appropriate public education in the fall.

  1. Emerging skills

Emerging skills (as when a child is on the brink of learning to read) – can and should be incorporated into the eligibility analysis. This is because the child is in a critical stage of developing a skill which has great potential for increasing his/her self-sufficiency. If such a skill is not completely acquired and mastered, it is likely that the current level of acquisition will be lost due to the interruption of summer vacation.

  1. Nature and severity of the child’s disability

Another criterion that can be considered in the eligibility determination is the nature and severity of the child’s disability. Although no disability category may be excluded from consideration for ESY, the nature and severity is a key factor in the ESY eligibility determination.  Children with severe disabilities are more likely to be involved in ESY programs, since their regression may be more significant, and their recoupment abilities may extend over longer times.

  1. Notice and Timing

It is important to make a decision about ESY early enough in the year to allow the parents adequate time to exercise their right to an appeak.  The student’s eligibility for ESY should considered at each annual review meeting.  The district must document the discussion and the decision reached after consideration of ESY eligibility at each annual review meeting.

  1. Content and duration of ESY services

Some ESY services may extend over the summer, while others provide only for periodic contact with professionals, or assistance to parents in providing instruction or reinforcement to their children. The IEP team should determine the number of weeks, days per week, and hours per day that each student receiving ESY should be provided. Also, the content of the child’s ESY program must be determined on an individual basis.

  1. Ability of parents to provide an educational structure at home

One of the standards that needs to be considered in determining need for ESY is the ability of the parents to provide an educational structure at home. If parents can provide the proper structure at home, the regression and recoupment issue will not be as severe, thus ESY services through the school staff may not be necessary.

Interventions during the summer may be provided by other than school staff. For example, parents may be able to provide structured opportunities for their children to practice specific skills. Perhaps the student’s utilization of a computer software program will be sufficient to maintain a critical skill. Perhaps accessing an existing community resource, such as a summer recreation program, will meet the need. If so, the provision of such parental services will not necessitate an ESY program. The IEP committee may recommend ESY services after concluding that (a) parents are not able or willing to provide home structured opportunities, or (b) the involvement of ESY staff during the summer is necessary to offset the impact of regression and recoupment.

Taken together, ESY is:

  • Based only on the individual student’s skills that are critical to his/her overall educational progress as determined by the IEP committee.
  • Designed to maintain student mastery of critical skills and objectives represented on the IEP and achieved during the regular school year.
  • Designed to maintain a reasonable readiness to begin the next year.
  • Based on multi-criteria and not solely on regression.
  • Considered as a strategy for minimizing the regression of skill, thus shortening the time needed to gain back the same level of skill proficiency that existed at the end of the school year.
  • Deliverable in a variety of environments and structures such as:
    • Home with the parent teaching, and staff consulting
    • School based
    • School based with community activities
    • Related services alone or in tandem with the above

NSPT offers school advocacy services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

school advocate

How to Choose the Right School Advocate for Your Child

Have you heard the phrase “Free Appropriate Public Education?” If you have a school-aged child with special needs, most likely you have.  This is because a FREE and APPROPRIATE education is guaranteed by law.  Sometimes, however, this is easier said than done.  Although it’s relatively simple to learn the laws and understand your rights, obtaining appropriate services, goals, accommodations, modifications, placement, and an adequate ongoing education is often much more difficult.  The process can be frustrating, overwhelming, confusing, and time-consuming.

That is why many parents choose to work with a School Advocate.  They feel that it “levels the playing field” and that they have a much better chance ensuring that their children’s needs will be met.   How, though, does one go about choosing an effective School Advocate?  There are several important items to consider when choosing an Advocate that will be most effective for your child and your situation.  The first is that ANYONE can call themselves an “Advocate”. There is no certification or licensure or specialized education needed to be a special education advocate. This is why it is extremely important to ensure that your Advocate is knowledgeable and experienced.

Following are some key questions and thoughts to consider when choosing your School Advocate:

  1. In order to effectively advocate for your child, the Advocate needs a solidschool advocate understanding of the law. School teams often use terms you might not be familiar with and reference “law” that may or may not be accurate.  An experienced Advocate can provide you with explanations, accurate information and be able to counter the school’s arguments when they are telling you things that might not be true, might not be the whole truth, or when they fail to tell you all of the options.
  2. An effective Advocate understands school systems, teaching methods, curriculum, and interventions. She knows how to measure your child’s progress in school and how to use this information when developing the IEP.
  3. An effective Advocate understands and can interpret evaluation scores. Although school staff will tell you their interpretation, it is always wise to have an expert independently review the results.  A qualified Advocate can review all the data and explain to you what they mean, how they apply to your child, and for which services your child may or may not be entitled based on those results.  An effective Advocate is the link between the evaluation and your IEP team.
  4. The IEP is the hallmark feature of your child’s programming and should to be written by someone who thoroughly understands each aspect of this document. A qualified special education Advocate will be able to review the IEP, section-by-section, and provide you with a detailed list of suggestions to improve the IEP in order to meet your child’s needs.  Are the baseline data adequate to write the goals?  Are the goals meaningful and supported by the data?  Are there sufficient goals to ensure progress? Are your parent concerns written in a manner that truly reflect what you stated?  Are your child’s needs properly identified?  Is your child being provided ample services to address the goals?  Are the specialists providing enough “minutes” to meet your child’s needs?  Are the accommodations and modifications appropriate?  An experienced Advocate can also analyze the IEP in relation to past IEPs and evaluation data and provide you with an informative summary that will help you know if your child’s services are progressing in a manner this is truly adequate and supportive.
  5. An effective Advocate will educate and empower you to become a better advocate for your child. She will teach you how to plan and prepare for meetings, how to ask questions to get the information you need, how to write effective emails and letters, and how to navigate the process.  A well-trained Advocate will also help you know when you need advice from an Attorney.
  6. An effective Advocate can take the emotion out of the process.  She should be able to remain calm…and not be too aggressive or too timid.  An Advocate should be able to diplomatically handle conflict in a way that helps you feel comfortable throughout the process while ensuring that your child has everything necessary to receive a Free Appropriate Public Education.

Click here to learn more about School Advocacy at North Shore Pediatric Therapy.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

the transition from preschool to kindergarten

The Transition from Preschool to Kindergarten: What Every Parent Should Know

The transition form preschool to Kindergarten is one of the first big steps a young child takes in his academic career.

As a parent, you may be wondering what the main differences are between the preschoolThe Transition from Preschool to Kindergarten and kindergarten setting and how to best equip your child for these changes. Although the change in environment reflects just a chronological year of advancement, the expectations are vastly different.

What to Expect in Preschool:

  • Children are able to expand their play to incorporate peers and develop the skills necessary to gain a greater sense of self and those around them. This might be the first time children are expected to engage with peers, follow directions, and adhere to structure.
  • Offers more play-based interventions and structured unstructured time (free play, art time where the child can choose what they want do).
  • Children learn to focus, share, take turns, and listen while others speak.
  • Language and cognitive skills emerge and strengthen.

What to Expect in Kindergarten:

  • The expectation is that the child can endure increased structure and will be able to write, utilize proper pencil grip, and engage in rote counting.
  • There is an emphasis on increased child independence as the student becomes more responsible over his choices.
  • Children are expected to implement peer problem-solving to avoid tattling and to enhance conflict resolution strategies.
  • Implementation of self-help and self-advocacy skills are expected.
  • In some cases, the length of the school day is longer.

To prepare your child for Kindergarten, utilize these strategies to create a smooth transition:

  • Explore new activities as a family to help your child adjust to change. This will help him to be okay with experiencing the unknown.
  • Read to your child for 20 minutes a day to foster listening and focusing skills.
  • Use consistent routines and disciplinary methods to get the child familiar with the fixed systems in the school setting (i.e. understand expectations and how to modify behavior).
  • Teach child independence through child-friendly clothing (pick out clothes), toileting independence, and setting the expectation that the child will put away toys and coats regularly.

Is Your Child Ready for Kindergarten

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!