Preparing for kindergarten is an important topic for many parents, early childhood educators, and daycare providers. In part 2 of our interview, we asked Kirstin Parsons from Get Set for School (a new curriculum focused on helping preschool children prepare for kindergarten), to describe the value of kindergarten readiness programs.
OwnADaycare: Are kindergarten readiness programs necessary or advisable?
Kirstin Parsons: Children are naturally curious, active, and eager to try new things, and they have their own learning styles and pace. To tap their unique learning abilities and the diverse learning style of each child, preschoolers should be engaged with a readiness curriculum that encourages “playful learning” and involves music, touch and movement. By incorporating components such as music, drawing, playing, and building, learning is more natural and automatic. Activities such as writing on blackboards, building letters with wood pieces, and mixing music with movement are integral components of multisensory learning. Whether you choose to do this at home or enroll your child in a preschool program is up to you, as programs such as Get Set for School offer components for parents to use at home and teachers to use at school.
A strong kindergarten readiness approach should develop the following skills:
- Letter, shape, and color recognition
- Use of small writing tools while developing grip broken crayons, little chalk bits, golf-size pencils
- Body awareness
- Language development
Following are some examples of way to achieve education through playful learning:
- Singing – for imitation, rhythm and body awareness
- Playing – for social skills, like taking turns and following instructions
- Coloring – for proper crayon/pencil grip and symbol comprehension
- Building – for sequencing, including counting and letter/number formation
OwnADaycare: In your opinion, can a child who has never attended preschool or a daycare center be as successful in kindergarten as a child who has attended preschool?
Kirstin Parsons: School success depends on a child learning the fundamentals of learning, including social skills, handwriting readiness, and language proficiency, among others.
OwnADaycare: Do you have any additional comments or tips?
Kirstin Parsons: Here are some activities from the Get Set for School curriculum that parents can do to help encourage good school skills for preschoolers.
- Read – Show your children the importance of communicating through words.
- Draw – Children who draw often, write better. For young drawers, give them broken pieces of chalk or crayons to use. They will have no choice but to hold these small pieces correctly!
- Cook - Make cookie letters to familiarize children with letters and to teach the importance of following directions.
- Sing – When you sing the alphabet song, show your children the letters as you sing. Sing songs that use their fingers, like the “Itsy Bitsy Spider”, and “The Crayon Song” on the Get Set for School Sing-Along CD.
- Move – Teach spatial words, like “under, over, top, middle, and bottom” by using visual representations. Put one hand under another; go to the top of the slide at the playground, etc.
- Go “Top Left” – Get children in the habit of going from top to bottom and left to right. This will help with reading and writing
- Give them little bites – Encourage children, even ones as young as 9 months, to pick up small objects, like tiny pieces of food, with their fingers. It will help to develop writing muscles and good coordination
- Live and Learn – Explain the concept of waiting in line when you are at the supermarket, re-iterate body parts as a child dresses or undresses; use bath time to count toys in the tub, draw letters on the wall of the tub in shaving cream and learn how to pour water from a pitcher.
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