Parenting Matters: Kindergarten is not like it used to be

  • Wednesday, January 22, 2020 1:30am
  • Life

In the past, many of us sent our children to kindergarten assuming what is where learning began. Now we know that is not the case.

Today most children enter school knowing their letters and the sounds of the letters. Some even know how to read. Most have been in preschool for one or two year or sometimes even more.

That is not true for everyone. Other children come to school having read few books, not knowing letters or sounds of letters. These children are significantly behind before they begin. Many will catch up and some will not.

If you want your child ready for school, there are things you need to be doing right now. You are the key to your child being kindergarten ready.

Read to your child regularly. This will help him more than any single thing you can do. The library has great books you can check out. Trade children books with friends but read every day.

Talk to your child a lot. This increases his language skills and just makes him smarter. He learns a great deal from the words he hears so he needs to hear lots of them.

Listen to your child even more. This encourages him to use his language skills. It also increases his sense of self-worth.

Pay attention to his development. Read about what your child at this age should be doing wherever you have an opportunity. Come to First Teacher and learn from the guest speakers and the many parents you will meet. If you have concerns about how your child is doing for his age, ask about developmental screenings in the community.

Give your child opportunities to learn skills. With a chance from you, he can learn how to use a scissors, how to answer questions about the book you are reading together, and how to interact with other children. There are many opportunities to learn that you can introduce him to.

You do not have to sit down and monitor his learning. You can do it while you are doing other things. You can do it and have fun doing it.

Getting the clothes ready for washing, you can sing some of the songs that he has learned with you. This is washing time but it can also be part of education time.

When you are setting the table or putting dishes into the washer, ask him questions he can answer. Questions about the book you read together last night or questions about what his favorite book is and why. Ask him to tell you as many letters as he can, from A-Z. Give him help when he needs it.

When you are in the car, do not miss the opportunity to point out important things in the environment. Show him the stop signs. Talk about the lights at the corner. Talk about laws you are obeying. Certainly talk about the importance of his seat belt and of your seat belt.

Make sure you spend time a few close minutes together reading a book at night. This is important learning time.

Help him get off to a good start with what he learns today. You are his first teacher and you are very important in helping him be ready for kindergarten and for life.

Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and former executive director of Parenting Matters Foundation, which publishes newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents. To reach interim First Teacher Executive Director Patty Waite, email patty@firstteacher.org or call 360-681-2250.

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