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Ask Miss Patti: Intentional parenting builds social skills for school, life

As parents and educators, we have many questions and at times we don’t know who to ask or where to go. Here is a safe place to ask these questions
Preschool helps children get accustomed to other adults asking them to do something that might not be on their agenda.

Welcome to Ask Miss Patti! Here is a column where you can send questions about anything related to children! Although I am trained in Early Childhood and Primary years, I might be able to ask another professional if your question falls out of my realm.

Who am I to give advice you might ask? I have been working with children for over 30 years in both the school system (teaching Grades K-3) and in the field of early childhood including school age care, preschool, multi-age care, StrongStarts, Headstarts, and home daycares. I am passionate about early intervention and supporting children with diverse needs.

I have my Bachelor of Education from University of Winnipeg, Studies in Special Needs from Red River College in Winnipeg and my ECE with both Infant Toddler and Diverse Needs specialization. I have just recently won the Prime Ministers Award in Excellence in Early Childhood and am always striving to learn more in the area of early childhood. I currently own Miss Patti’s Preschool, which has been open since 2014 and work as an Instructor for Northern Lights College teaching Early Childhood since 2016.

As parents and educators, we have many questions and at times we don’t know who to ask or where to go with these questions. Sometimes we’re afraid to ask questions for fear of judgment. Here is a safe place to ask these questions.

Please email me your questions at All questions posted will be anonymous. Thanks in advance.

Dear Miss Patti,

I am a stay-at-home mom of a three-year-old boy. I feel I do a pretty good job of creating activities that stimulate him and we read together all the time. His language seems pretty good and of course we think he’s very smart. What I’m wondering is how he is socially? I take him to StrongStart occasionally, but he sticks close to me so it’s hard to tell. Do I need to enrol him in preschool or daycare for him to practice social skills? Thanks,

— Socially Curious

Dear Socially Curious

Thanks for writing in! Preschool helps children get accustomed to other adults asking them to do something that might not be on their agenda. This is different from interactions with adult family members who are more than likely going to go along with the child’s agenda. Preschool also helps teach regulation skills, or if the child has difficulty regulating their emotions or body this becomes very apparent in a structured program. This is where they might have to take turns more often, wait for their turn longer or share prized toys. This is not usually the case at home where they can eat, wash their hands, go to the bathroom whenever they want and play with their toys at their leisure and pace.

Having said that, you can practice these same skills at home if you set up intentional ways to practice. When you go to StrongStart, start paying attention to other parents’ philosophies. How do they interact or speak to their child? Is it similar to the way you parent? These are great playdate partners. It’s beneficial if you’re on the same page. It’s the next step that’s crucial and it’s the reason you need a playdate partner with a similar philosophy. When you get together it is beneficial to stay on the floor close to where your children are playing. You are their social coaches and coaches need to be close enough to support and script language where needed. This is not the same as helicopter parenting. You only need to intervene when necessary.

For example, if the two are playing tug of war over a toy, give it a few beats to see what they do and then if they are still struggling support with some scripts, “It looks like Marshall is not done with that toy. He’ll let you know when he is. What can we play with while we wait?” So instead of saying, “Use your words,” give them the specific words needed. If they are younger or non-verbal, a simple script of “No thank you” gives them a start when they are struggling in that moment to get their needs heard.

If we’re too far away to support they will usually default to smacking, biting, or pushing each other in frustration. If they are not coached with another method they might enter Kindergarten still using these methods to communicate their needs, unable to regulate their emotions or body.

We are there to help them navigate these different areas. We see adults around us who have missed these lessons. Waiting for your turn to talk, patiently waiting in line, helping someone when they are hurting or in need of support, or using your voice to get your needs met in a polite, calm way. Whether you are an educator or a parent you can help children learn social skills that will not only help them in school but in life.

If you would like to see how your school assesses Kindergarten or preschool children you can see results from previous years and conduct tests yourself at

Thanks for your question,

— Miss Patti

Send your questions to Miss Patti at

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