The transition to First Grade is important and usually arises some anxiety in parents. I believe that parents are the best people to support and help their children, therefore, finding a balance between stimulating their children promoting a calm and positive environment is key for a smooth transition into first grade.
One typical question parents are concerned about is “What can we do to help?, which takes us to a previous question “ What are the skills that children need to be successful?”. I think that these skills are useful for life in general not necessarily just for the transition for 1st grade. Literature has identified a few: persistence, confidence, team work, planning, impulse control and attention. There is also a video from the Center of Developing Child – Harvard University that identifies some main competencies: Executive functions (working memory and mental flexibility) and impulse control that promote success in life. The video makes a parallel between the brain and an air traffic control.
It’s also important to think about “How can school and family help the children to develop these skills?”. There are quite a few options: Play, reading regularly books and stories, positive and consistent communication between adult and children, clear rules and routines, clear and consistent limits, involve children appropriately both at school and at home, to give responsibility in the house (set the table, tidy up their bedroom, etc.), group and table games, observe our behavior, music, physical exercise, participation in activities at school and at home (visits to museums, traveling, etc.). The following link can give parents some more ideas that are age appropriate.
In conclusion, the message that I wanted to convey was that rather than sitting down at a desk practicing numbers and letters,parents have better ways to help their children in this transition. Namely, they can help to develop the executive functions and self-regulation and providing a stable and loving environment for their children. We know that most of these things both parents and school are already doing!