Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Kindergarten here we come!

IT'S HAPPENING AGAIN!  You knew how much they were growing when the shoes didn't fit and the pants were too short,  but "big" school??  KINDERGARTEN?!  This is a vital milestone in every child’s life and as a parent you play an major part in preparing your child in that new role as a kindergartner. 

There have been lots of changes in Kindergarten since we were in school. Long gone are the days when teachers focused primarily on  kids being nice to each other and cutting on the line.  Today some school districts provide full day kindergarten (that’s about 6 hours).    Now the major focus is on reading, writing, and math.  Children must transition from “learning through play” to a significant amount of seat time and paper work.

Is my child ready for KINDERGARTEN?

Children need to be socially and emotionally ready for school.  This is one of the most important areas of readiness. Children need to be able to cooperate with their peers in group situations and activities,  to control their impulses and to relate to non-family authority figures.

Children need to have acquired motor skills.  Motor skills that use large muscles are necessary for activities such as walking in a straight line, jumping, climbing and throwing a ball.  Motor skills also include small muscles that are used for drawing, coloring, cutting, and beginning handwriting.

Children need to be cognitively and intellectually ready for school. Intellectual readiness is a term used to describe the learning skills a child needs for kindergarten success. These skills include knowledge of colors, numbers through 10, at least some of the letters of the alphabet (e.g. particularly the letters in his/her name), and shapes. Children should also be able to assemble simple puzzles, answer questions about his/her environment (e.g., how many legs does this spider have?), and understand similarities (e.g., how are an apple and an orange alike?), differences (e.g. how is an apple different from an orange?), and opposites (e.g. ice cream is cold, coffee is hot).

• Children need to be curious and eager to learn.  Children will be most successful if they learn to ask questions, think independently, and be creative. They need to be curious about the world, interested in how things work, and know how to creatively approach problems. So, if your child asks you a question like, "Do mosquitoes sleep?", resist the urge to answer (you may not know anyway!) or to give them the answer right away. Instead try asking them, "What do you think?" or "Where do you think we could find the answer to that question?". By doing this, you are encouraging children to think for themselves. This also helps build a child's self-esteem!

If your child has already acquired these skills or you can encourage and help him do so, kindergarten will be a breeze.


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