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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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The Different Stages of Play and Social Development

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When I observe the children at the childcare center, I see many different types of play going on.  These are the stages all children go through as they grow from infancy on. Although some children at any age may watch and play by themselves, the children usually follow these steps of development as they learn social skills and how to interact with other children.

ONLOOKER OR OBSERVANT PLAY

In the infant room, the babies crawl around, find a toy and put it in their mouths.  Then they may sit up and just look around at the other babies but not interact with each other, although one baby may try to take a toy from another.  This is the first stage of play.  The babies are beginning to notice what is around them, as they explore their environment.

 

courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

SOLITARY PLAY

As babies grow and begin to walk, they continue to explore their environment and start to experiment with items they can control with their hands.  (This is the time to child proof your house!)  They learn cause and effect as they dump out a box of toys to see how they spill all over the floor, push a ball to see it roll, or press buttons on a toy to hear it play music or other sounds. Young toddlers tend to play by themselves, even if they are in a room with others.

PARALLEL PLAY

As the children grow and start to become more observant of others around them, they often are seen sitting or running around together but not really directly interacting with each other.  They may sit side-by-side doing a puzzle, push trains or cars on the floor, look at books independently or build with blocks without involving each other in their play.

ASSOCIATIVE PLAY

This is seen in most preschool classrooms or playground.  Children begin to interact with each other while they play in the dramatic play area pretending to make a meal and serve it to each other, they may look at a book together and talk about the pictures or play in the sandbox together.  This is the age that the children learn to socialize, share and develop friendships.  They communicate about what they are doing and invite others to join them.

 

photo from c. andrews

photo from c. andrews

COOPERATIVE PLAY

I see this going on everyday with the older children at the center who are going to kindergarten in the fall. During the outside time they create some very structured, organized play.  They create racecar games, become transformers, or super heroes. It is interesting to see who the leaders are.  The leader will tell the others the idea he or she has planned and tells the others what their part of the plan will be.  This stage the children work together as they plan their play or build a grand city using blocks and other props.

If you get a chance to observe children, watch and listen to the way they interact with each other.  It is fascinating to see the exchange of ideas as they learn to cooperate and socialize with each other.  Children need a chance to play with other children around their same age to develop the skills necessary to be able to communicate well with others as they grow.

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What is the future for Molly

 

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In looking back at my past blogs, I feel I am getting away from my original goal, which was to help promote my book, Molly Goes to Preschool.  I have read the reviews from those who have read it and really appreciate the honest feedback. This is my first book, and I have learned from my mistakes. My purpose for writing the book was to help prepare young children for preschool, which I think was accomplished.

I believe when children know what to expect in new situations they will be more accepting and less frightened by new experiences.  Children relate to other children by watching them play, hearing about experience in storybooks or watching movies or TV shows about other children.

I have read hundreds of books to young children as a teenager when babysitting, as a mom, and grandmother, a preschool teacher and now as a director of a childcare center.  There are so many books available for children with a large variety of subjects, real or fantasy.  My plan is to write more books about real situations that young children experience, using Molly as the lead character.  I hope to create simple books that young children will enjoy and can relate to and learn from.

Here is a list of my ideas.  I would appreciate any suggestions or opinions of what you think.  Do you think children would like books about these subjects?

  • 001 Molly has a birthday party
  •  Molly is a big sister
  •  Molly goes on vacation
  •  Molly adopts a pet
  •  Molly’s grandparent dies
  •  Molly’s new friend (some kind of disability)

I would also like suggestion on what you, as readers, are interested in as far a blogs go. Any comments would be helpful!

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Is your Child Ready for Kindergarten?

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Image from office.microsoft.com

Is my child ready for kindergarten?

This is a question many parents ask.  With the high standards for kindergarten, many early childhood teachers are happy about the new age requirements to start kindergarten.  Check out www.teachingfirst.net to see the standards for California.

The Kindergarten Readiness act of 2010 for California has changed the entry age into kindergarten to be 5 years old.  The 2013-2014 school year the cut off date is October 2nd, which means the child must be 5 before October 2 to be eligible for a regular kindergarten program.  Next school year, 2014-2015, the cut off date will be September 2nd.  Check out www.cde.ca.gov for a better understanding of the Kindergarten Readiness Act with the FAQ page.

The school districts now offer a Transitional Kindergarten program for the fall birthdays that are not old enough for the regular kindergarten.  This year the child must be having their 5th birthday between October 2nd and December 2nd.  Next year it will be September 2nd through December 2nd.

Age is one ingredient for school readiness, but being socially, emotionally and physically ready are very important too.  A quality preschool program that stresses social learning through play is a proven factor in getting children ready for Kindergarten.  Children must learn how to communicate with others, follow directions, share and play well with others.  Being able to separate from mom and dad without fears and tears is a good sign of being emotionally ready. Also children also need to be physically ready for kindergarten by being able to take care of their own bathroom needs (buttons and zippers), be able to hold pencils and cut with scissors.Most good preschool programs will help children develop these skills as the children interact and play together.  Children learn while they play!

There are many great webpages with tips on getting your child ready for kindergarten on the web.  Just Google kindergarten readiness and see what comes up.  Next time you are surfing the web check out a few of my favorite blog and websites: 123kindergarten.com, mamasmiles.com and familyeducation.com.

Happy surfing!

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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?