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Getting Your Child Ready for Kindergarten

   freedigitalphotos.net

freedigitalphotos.net

Many parents ask how to prepare their child for kindergarten.  The answer to that question is not a simple to do list.  It is not a quick preparation, but a life long learning process.  What your children learn from birth will prepare them for all the new adventures that life will offer.

Newborn babies are totally dependent on caregivers to take care of their basic needs.  A caregiver must feed babies regularly, nurture them, talk to them, bath and dress them in order for the baby to grow and survive.  Babies learn to cry as a way to communicate with the caregivers and soon realize how to get reactions from others by smiling and making sounds. They will learn to trust that needs are being met as caregivers respond to them. Babies soon begin to develop skills that will help them survive as they get older and begin to feed themselves, crawl, walk and move around by themselves.  They begin to explore their environment and discover how things are manipulated with their hands, feet and mouth.

As young children begin to develop language, they discover new communication skills that help them get what they need, (or want).  Children need to be talked to and read to often to help them develop language.  They will hear the words and try to imitate them.  Social situations are very important in fostering language and communication skills.  Children learn by examples of what is shown and taught to them.  Ask them questions so they can learn how to listen and respond.

Young child with book.

Young child with book. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Self -help skills are extremely important to attain independence.  They must know how to feed themselves, take care of bathroom needs, wash their hands and dress themselves.  Children must learn how to interact and socialize with people around them, through actions and conversations.  Playing with other children can help with concepts of sharing, taking turns, and making friends.  (see my blog posted previously about social skills). Children that have learned the alphabet, and numbers have a head start when they are to begin kindergarten.  How to hold a pencil, use scissors and how to write their name gives them a great advantage too.  They need to know how to problem solve, follow directions and finish a task.

Children must be able experience new environments such as; the park, grocery store, zoo, other people’s home or daycare centers, to be able to see other people to gain knowledge.  They need to ask questions to understand situations unfamiliar to them.  This will help them adjust to new opportunities.  They need to be able to be comfortable in new places as well as emotionally strong enough, brave enough, to be away from caretakers.

So, how to prepare children for kindergarten starts from birth.  Children must learn to be able to communicate with adults and other children.  They must have self-help skills, be physically, emotionally and cognitively mature enough to be able to be on their own.  This is what they have learned from the moment they are born.

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How Preschool Can Help Children Socialize

Friends reading together

Friends reading together

Many concepts are learned as children attend preschool. They learn to make decisions and choices as they decide what to do, and who to play with.  Social skills are a very important part of growing up, and are a big factor to why children attend preschool.  As children begin to communicate with others, it helps them develop language as they interact with the other children and teachers.  I have had parents tell me how pleased they are when their children express new words and tell them of a new experience they’ve had at school, including songs they have learned or a special friend they have made.  Preschool is a safe place to learn how to make friends as children watch other children interact and play together with educated, loving teachers around to help them master social skills.

Friends in sandbox

Friends in sandbox

When children attend preschool they also learn how to take turns and share toys. Concepts that include communicating and to “use their words” to ask for a turn, instead of grabbing for things, is a vital lesson children must be taught to gain friendships and to get along well with other children. Children learn all types of communication skills throughout their life, but what they learn as a young child, will give them the foundations which are necessary for future experiences as they attend kindergarten, elementary school and beyond.

Sharing and playing together

Sharing and playing together

My book Molly Goes to Preschool presents how some typical 3 and 4-year-old children participate in a preschool program. When I was a preschool teacher, my classroom was set up as illustrated in the book with; cubbies for personal belonging, a large rug area for building with block or other building materials and for circle time, an art area, a dramatic play area with a child size kitchen, and a science area.  We also we had a large playground with a sand area, a climbing structure, a few tables for books and other small toys, and an area for bikes and balls.

Preschool classroom

Preschool classroom

A part of the story, the teacher dismisses the children from “circle time” as she names a color they are wearing.  I used this method myself many times to excuse the children in smaller groups to avoid confusion.  This is not only a way to help the children learn colors; it can help them improve skills in; listening, following directions and develop patience.   In the story, little Molly is a little scared to be in the new situation of attending preschool.  She realizes another child is also scared.  Children learn that others may have the same fears and emotions as they do as they go to preschool or other places where other children are.  Children have great empathy for each other and want to reach out to help each other.  As a parent and teacher, I have seen many children help other children overcome their fears or worries as they invite them to play and participate in activities.  I included the feelings of being scared and a demonstration how another child befriends Molly in the book since this is what can really happen in preschool and children can be comforted by the examples of others.

Having fun on the slide

Having fun on the slide

I would love your feedback on what your children have learned from attending preschool!  Did their language skills improve?  Have they learned to share and make friends?  Do you think they would have learned these skills without going to preschool?

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How Reading Prepares Children for the Future

As a parent, our job is to prepare our children for life. We do this with everyday situations; going to the market, visiting friends and family, outings to the zoo or park and reading to them. For example, there are hundreds of books about zoo animals, which can be read, along with pictures of elephants, gorillas and long necked giraffes.However, seeing these animals at the zoo will give our children a real life experience to add to their knowledge of these creatures. Same understanding is needed to gain experience with social situations.

readingtochildren

Reading stories about what other children do gives children an idea of different situations; making friends, visiting grandparents or going to preschool. It is a better learning experience for children to socialize directly with others to develop real knowledge of what books can teach. In the book “Molly Goes to Preschool,” the story enacts a typical morning that some preschool programs offer. Reading it to your child can help then know what to expect when they go to school.