Diane, a mother to five-year old Fabien, confesses she is deeply confused. She cannot help her 5-year-old son concentrate. But before she gets herself confused, she needs to understand the role of a kindergarten in a child’s life.
The word kindergarten literally means ‘children’s garden.’ It is a form of education where children are taught to develop basic skills through creative play and social interaction.
In kindergarten, children receive a sociological orientation to learning through play, communication skills, and interaction. Here learning occurs with the use of learning aids, play, songs, rhymes, and games.
Before both parents complain how the child lacks concentration, they need to establish the teaching approach being used in that kindergarten. Children in a kindergarten have limited attention span that calls for regular change of activity.
At his age, your son is not expected to listen like an adult, especially when the teaching is more intellectual than play-centred. On the other hand, he might even be an active child with a short attention span.
Children with a short attention span get restless when forced to listen longer than they can imagine. It is important for you and his teacher to understand that your son is a 5-year-old, and then accept it.
At his development stage, he understands the world through play, not through letters and figures. His restlessness while at home is normal and expected. It shows that his development brain is interacting with the environment.
One of the prerequisites to learning is a child’s physical and psychological readiness, where readiness affects concentration and the child’s ability to grasp concepts.
Active as he is, your son is not yet developmentally ready for abstract learning.
Putting theoretical letters and figures down his throat might only cause ‘academic constipation.’ The desire to play for any 5-year-old is normal because to him, play is learning and the reverse is true. Are you beating him for behaving like a normal child?
His failure to remember the letters or digits is a normal learning challenge, not a crime. Children are emotionally sensitive. Beating him might make him associate learning with pain, hence sowing hatred seeds for school.
Children thrive on encouragement. It is just as important to support him in failure as well as it is to congratulate him for success.
Ask your child what they do when they fail at something they are good at -a missed tackle on the football field for example. This will help him to see how important it is to keep trying.
Learning about math and reading isn’t the only struggle your child faces. Maybe they have a bigger problem and they just want you to listen to them.
Sadly, most kindergartens have degenerated from ‘children’s gardens’ to lecture rooms where youngsters battle with abstract concepts.
For a child to learn a new concept, equal attention should be put to the approach and concept.
Parenting is an interesting journey of discovery and you should not fear making mistakes. Every developmental stage creates great learning opportunities. However, don’t expect your child to grow too soon. Childhood is a ‘right’ he is entitled to enjoy.
Be patient but firm with the basics and your child will catch on. Be willing to be the bad person, but don’t make school or homework seem like a punishment.
Think of yourself as the leader of an expedition, not a jailor. Things will work out. When things get difficult, he will respect your authority and see you as a resource for the help he needs.