Is my child ready for kindergarten?
This question can be daunting for many Baton Rouge parents preparing to send their child to big kid school for the first time, but it doesn’t have to be. Every child matures differently and there’s no single factor indicating whether a child is ready for kindergarten or not. The Department of Education and other organizations are developing ways to tackle this issue to ensure parents feel confident on their child’s first day of school. Here are five helpful ways to ensure kindergarten readiness this summer.
1.Play and Learn
Turning School Education Director, Robin Zoubek encourages parents to make learning fun and engaging. When a child is forced to learn new material, they are usually not as engaged or receptive as when they are playing. The Turning School offers a play-based curriculum: from the way students grip their pencil to the shapes they draw to the colors they learn. Fun projects are extended to different subject materials such as math and writing versus repeatedly drilling lesson plans. Zoubek recalled a student who began the year dreading writing exercises, but within three months, was thrilled by the idea of writing his name among other words. If you make learning time a fun time, your child will be more receptive!
2. Read, Read, Read
Want to expand your child’s knowledge this summer? Spend some time reading some books with them! The U.S. Department of Education attributes early reading to higher levels of reading comprehension in middle school and encourages using early years to expand their vocabulary. American multinational publishing, education and media company, Scholastic, says by the age of 4, a child should on average know 4,000 to 6,000 words.
Zoubek says literacy develops at different times for different children, so allowing them to learn at their own pace will foster a stronger interest in reading. Mother and Howard alum, Bria Lorraine, is starting well beyond the expected summer prep. She’s ensuring her three-year-old daughter, Nala, is ready for her first day, two years ahead of schedule. She reads to Nala every night and has noticed a growth in vocabulary and ability to spell her name. Lorraine says Nala “recognizes words and is more articulate than most kids her age that haven’t been socialized around kids their age.”
3. Encouraging IndependenceZoubek says one of the main concerns from parents is separation anxiety, as it may be the first time they are separated from their child for a long period of time. Practicing independence can reduce the stress and dependence of parent or child on each other.
Senior Health Coach, educator, and mother, ShaQuilla Stancil, says her 16-month-old daughter is already intellectually savvy and independent as a result of home learning and daycare interactions. Stancil encourages her daughter to use her hands as often as possible and explore everything around her. Stancil says her daughter is showing growth and proactive when it comes to reading, interacting with other children, knowledge of letters and numbers and is fully potty trained.
4. Practicing a Routine
The National Association for the Education of Young Children says sticking to a routine early can reduce stress and ease the transition once the school year begins. Stancil says her daughter is in bed no later than 9 pm and always practices her morning routine. She fully participates in selecting her outfits, assists with dressing herself and helps comb her hair. It should be an experience enjoyable for both the parent and child, so not to seem like a drain or chore.
5. Unstructured Time
Zoubek says it’s important for kids to be bored. The school year can be “over-structured” at times, full of classes and schedules. It’s important to have a “healthy amount of unstructured time.” Children should have time to play and figure things out on their own. The summer is a great opportunity for children to discover how “to make a spaceship out of a box or make a plane out of paper.”
The more time allotted for self-awareness and creativity, and effort invested into growth and independence, the better their kindergarten experience will be. Playful learning, reading, encouraging independence, practicing a routine and allowing unstructured time work together to build the solid foundation that will carry your child through a successful year in kindergarten. And just like Lorraine, these exercises can be practiced well beyond the summer before or after kindergarten.