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Use summer to prepare your child for kindergarten success

Posted On: 2017-07-24 01:55 PM
From White Mountain Independent...

LAKESIDE — The first day of kindergarten is a big step for young kids. Families can help that transition by using the summer before the big day to help kids develop basic skills to prepare.

"A child that is ready for kindergarten should be emotionally ready," said Heather Gray, kindergarten teacher at Sequoia Village School in Show Low. "The child should be excited to come to school and learn. It is great when a parent shows the child that going to school will be fun, safe and exciting. When parents are supportive of the school environment, students will be, also."

Below are some fun, everyday activities from First Things First to help your family have a fun, easy transition to kindergarten:

  • Read with your child at least 20 minutes per day. Try books that repeat words; involve activities like counting, identifying colors, objects or letters; or, are about things your child likes. Ask questions like, "What do you think happens next?"
  • Talk with your child everywhere — at home, in the car, at the store. Make up stories or songs about your outings.
  • Writing begins with scribbling. Give your child safe writing tools to play with, like crayons, chalk or markers and blank paper. Ask your child to tell you about their drawings.
  • Schedule a visit with your child's doctor and dentist. Health problems make concentrating difficult.
  • Teach your child how to use the bathroom by themselves, to wash their hands after going to the bathroom and before eating, to blow their nose and sneeze into their elbow.
  • Before the first day, talk with your child about what to expect during the school day. The more details kids know, the less anxious they will feel.
  • Rehearse for the big day with test-runs of the new routine, which will include:
    • Choosing what to wear the night before.
    • Waking up early to have plenty of time to get ready.
    • Eating a healthy breakfast.
    • Walking, or driving, to the bus stop and talking about getting on and where to sit.
    • Practicing how to open parts of their lunch, whether it's a carton of milk or a small bag of carrots. Remind them that teachers or lunch staff can help if needed.

Even if you don't have kindergarteners this year, it's never too early to start helping kids prepare. Children who have positive early childhood experiences tend to score higher on school readiness assessments and are more likely to do well in school and graduate.

"Parents know their child best," Gray said. "If you feel unsure about your child's readiness, most schools have kindergarten tests to check for academic readiness. Also, make an appointment to talk to your doctor if you are unsure of a physical or emotional delay."