As your child gets closer to starting kindergarten, you may begin to hear phrases like “school readiness” or “readiness skills”—but what does it actually mean to be ready?
In many ways, all children are ready to learn and are Born Learning. From birth, children learn things every day through their experiences and interactions with adults, other children and things in their environment. However, when schools talk about children being ready, they’re talking about whether children have specific skills and information that will help them succeed in school, such as counting, knowing letters and the sounds they make, and being able to work in small groups.
It's never too early to start thinking about school readiness for your child. Mom's healthy habits during the prenatal period can impact early brain development and help lay the groundwork for a healthy childhood. After birth, families can provide opportunities for their child to participate in positive early learning and development experiences. These positive experiences include:
- The consistent presence of at least one caring, supportive, adult
- Positive interaction on a consistent basis with that caring adult
- Effective, consistent and positive discipline
- Opportunity to learn through exploration
- Support in mastering skills at their own pace and in their own style
- Exposure to developmentally appropriate toys, books and games
- Opportunities to interact with other children socially
Children who have had these early learning experiences demonstrate improved problem-solving skills, motivation and academic achievement once they reach school. Children entering kindergarten with skills they need to succeed are more likely to graduate from high school and become productive workers.
As your child gets closer to kindergarten age, around four years old, contact your local elementary school or school district and request information on kindergarten enrollment. They will have information on what is needed to enroll your child in the local school system, as well as information on the kinds of skills and abilities children should have coming into kindergarten.
Ideas for Building Skills for Kindergarten
Read, Read, and Read Some More
You know your child likes to hear the same story again and again – so have fun picking out a new picture or letter to talk about each time or ask your child to “read” a favorite story to you—even if he/she doesn’t really know how to read words yet.
Practice the Alphabet
Sing the ABC song, sometimes skipping letters to see if your child notices and knows the right order. Or, try saying the ABCs and stop to see if your child can continue. Sound out letters, and talk about words that begin with a letter. When you are running errands with your child, play games in the car, having your child pick out letters on signs and items in the grocery store.
Name That Thing
Help your child learn how to describe how things look and what they do by playing the “Name That Thing” game. Example: Ask your child, “What’s round and you bounce it?” or “What has four legs, a long nose, and floppy ears?
Counting in Everyday Activities
At the grocery store, have your child count how many items you put in the cart, and ask how many there would be if you were to add one or take two away. Count the number of red cars you see on a short trip. Read books about numbers and counting.
The Kindergarten Survival Handbook
This handbook explains all the necessary skills and gives suggestions for activities that you can do to get your child ready for kindergarten. Visit www.parent-education.com/html to read excerpts and for information on how to order.