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Early Childhood Center

Early Childhood Center
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Getting Ready for Kindergarten

Kindergarten is an exciting milestone for you and your child. It can be an anxious time, especially if this is your first child. Undoubtedly, you will have many questions, but the three most common concerns are whether your child is "ready" for kindergarten, what is the best way to prepare your child for the kindergarten experience, and what can you expect from the kindergarten program.

Will my child be ready?

Children arrive at school with a wide range of abilities and experiences. Some children have been in preschool for several years, some have never been in preschool or a daycare situation. Some children have read or heard hundreds of stories. Some children have grown up in households where everyone had jobs to do, and some children have never had that kind of responsibility.

Parents should learn about the school and the school's expectations. Since children arrive from varied backgrounds, schools will try to meet the needs of each child who walks through the door. The parents' responsibility is to love, nurture and provide experiences and opportunities through everyday situations.

Preparing your child

  • Enhance love of learning by talking to your child, asking questions, and listening closely to the response. Respect your child's opinion even if it is different than your own.
  • Encourage your child's curiosity by taking advantage of natural learning activities. At the grocery store, point out items that fit into one group (frozen foods, cereals, pet supplies) and concept words (big, little, top, bottom, high, low). "Hand me the big red box on the bottom shelf."
  • Foster a love of books by reading to your child everyday. This will expose your child to many words, story language, cause and effect and story sequence.

Provide a variety of activities:

  • Talk (in the car, while giving a bath, at dinner time) about activities, interests and problems. A child's conversation should be considered as important as adults' conversation.
  • Listen to your child's questions and ideas. Encourage her curiosity. Show respect for her thoughts and feelings.
  • Establish clear rules and expectations for your child's behavior at home and school.
  • Visit zoos, museums, historic sites, concerts and other events.
  • Set an example by reading at home . Your child should see you reading books, magazines, newspapers, cookbooks, instructions, etc.
  • Organize household schedules and responsibilities. Everyone should have chores.
  • Get your child a library card and use it regularly.
  • Read aloud to your young child often.
  • Play games with your child (ring toss, Concentration, tic-tac-toe, Hi Ho Cherry-O).
  • Leave notes, messages and lists for your child.
  • Use everyday activities at home to emphasize important math concepts for your children. Count knives and forks when setting the table, keep a growth chart for each child, compare sizes and shapes of different articles.
  • Involve your child in simple cooking activities and meal preparation (with supervision).
  • Encourage your child to write. Help him write thank-you notes to relatives, shopping lists, schedules or activities and stories.

Word of caution: Avoid flash cards and drilling your child on colors, shapes, ABCs or numbers. Memorizing turns a child off to learning. Parents should not focus on specific, isolated skills because they don't make sense to children. Valuable informal learning experiences resulting from a child's interest and curiosity will give your child a better foundation and a love of learning.

The program

The typical kindergarten program is changing because we know better than ever how young children learn and what they should be learning. Research tells us that children learn through play, through being actively involved with materials and toys and through interaction with other children. We know children will make noise when they are learning, their mistakes are learning opportunities, and children need opportunities to make choices (such as to play with blocks or to look at a book). Children need time to learn how to work and play with other children and how to solve their own problems.

When you visit a kindergarten class, you should see:

  • Teachers moving about the room, stopping to talk to individual or small group of children
  • Children working on projects, active experiments and play
  • Classroom areas set aside for blocks, art, reading, listening, housekeeping, science, etc.
  • Children looking at books and dictating or writing stories
  • Happy, busy children!

Kindergarten is an exciting adventure. It is a time when your child should have the opportunity to develop a lifelong love of learning and to recognize herself as a unique and valuable person. Enjoy the year! Work in partnership with the school, and remember, you are still your child's most influential teacher.

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