The thought of kindergarten setting the stage for a successful education can be daunting. Parents across the country are discussing whether their children are ready for kindergarten or would benefit from another year in preschool. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to this question. However, parents can calm apprehensions by understanding they are a key component to their children’s success in school. Here are a few tips to help parents with kindergarten readiness.
Develop a love for learning
According to Kim Freehan, early childhood specialist for Mesa Public Schools, preparing children for kindergarten is an exciting time. It’s when they grow into independent and enthusiastic learners. Children who develop a curiosity and a desire to figure out how things work, along with an interest in the world of books and language, will do better in their school career. Parents can help their children develop a passion for learning by building confidence in their ability to learn. Exposure to a variety of books will increase children’s language skills and self-expression. Children love words that are unique, and it is fun to experience young-learners using them in daily conversations. Can your child speak clearly to express thoughts, feelings and ideas or answer questions about key details in stories? Here are a few activities to stimulate learning in your child:
• Select books about real-life people, places and events. Study the pictures together to see how they illustrate the facts.
• Passionate readers acquire their love for reading in the home. Help cultivate a love for reading by allowing your children to see you read on a daily basis. Remember to read a widerange of magazines, newspapers and books.
• Encourage your child to ask questions.
• Set aside time to investigate the world with your child. For example, take a walk in the park and point out differences in their surroundings, describe different trees or count how many flowers are in the park.
Independence and emotional growth
One important intricacy to kindergarten success is independence and emotional growth, which is a major contributing factor for kindergarten readiness, says Freehan. “If these skills are not developed prior to kindergarten, they may struggle with behavior in groups and with peers.” Children are more likely to be successful if they know how to follow the rules. Can they listen to a story without interrupting?Are they able to cope with changes in schedules? Children will need to make decisions and complete tasks without their parent’s help. Make sure your child is able to master the following independent skills.
• Go to the bathroom and wash their hands.
• Blow their nose and cover their mouth when they cough.
• Open a juice box and insert the straw.
• Be able to work buttons,snaps and zippers.
• Put belongings in their appropriate place.
Children need strong fine-motor skills to color, cut, paste and hold a pencil.They must develop the muscles in the thumb, index finger, middle finger and wrist to perform these tasks. Developing these skills will also help prepare them for future tasks, such as playing an instrument or typing on a computer keyboard.
• Manipulate play doughto develop strength in small hands.
• Go outside and play catch, bounce balls and jump rope.
• Have your child use a plant sprayer to water plants.
• Practice tracing shapes.
Each child’s path to success may be different. Have a milestones discussion with your child’s preschool teacher or pediatrician. Keep in mind education is a partnership between school and family; consider having a conversation with the future principal and kindergarten teacher. Remember to trust your instincts, because you know your child best. The most important factor in preparing for kindergarten is to love and nurture your children.
For more information regarding Mesa Public Schools early childhood programs please visit, www.mpsaz.org/preschool.