Summer somehow slipped past us all, and believe it or not, there is only 38 days until our school district welcomes back students. For parents of 4 and 5-year-olds the same question looms. Is my child ready for kindergarten? Good question. Kindergarten is no longer the class we remember. Kindergarten has evolved from being a time for play, and napping mats, to structured lessons in reading, writing and arithmetic. One of my favorite preschool quotes came from an adorable and animated 5-year old. He was excited to tell us that next year he would start kindergarten, yet he slapped his own little forehead with his hand and exclaimed, “Ohhhh kindergarten is six hours long, that is soooooo long”.
The purpose of this post is not to alarm parents with a list of skills their child does not have. Instead, it’s to embolden parents. Now is the time your preschooler will discover the love of counting, letters and writing their precious names. As a preschool teacher that works with ages 3-6, I might suggest parents ask themselves the following questions to decide if their child is ready for kindergarten:
Is your child self-confident?
Can your child manage his feelings and impulses?
Can your child sit through a story and pay attention?
Has your child interacted with children their same age in a play environment?
Does your child develop friendships?
Does your child communicate his needs to the adult in charge?
Does your child take turns and share in the classroom and on the playground?
Can your child handle separation?
In most cases your child has strengths in these areas and maybe a few weaknesses which is totally normal. The truth is children are ready for kindergarten on their own time. Each child develops in their own way. To prepare for kindergarten, many parents enroll their children in a quality preschool program. According to the U.S. Department of Education, “children in high-quality preschools display better language, cognitive and social skills."
Life in Christ Preschool prepares students to enter all day kindergarten with a structured play-based curriculum. A play-based approach involves both child-initiated and teacher-supported learning. The teacher encourages children’s learning and inquiry through interactions that aim to stretch students reasoning to higher levels. Because children are naturally motivated to play, a play-based program builds on this motivation. At our school we use play as a context for learning. Within a play framework, children can explore, experiment, discover and solve problems in imaginative ways. This builds independence, but even more important, it fosters a lifelong love of learning.
Examples of Structured Play Based Activities:
At our school we often set up specific themes to increase socio-dramatic play (pretending). The themes change weekly. When a child is playing, he or she is a doctor or a maybe a baker. Through play, children use words and mannerisms to embody their imagined role. This type of experience helps to support new vocabulary within their play scenario.
Problem solving, even for adults takes practice. Playing with other children not only develops social skills but problem-solving skills as well. As a child seeks to cooperate within the play scenario, he or she must learn to compromise and find solutions to maintain the play. Our preschool allows children to have free-play time after they have completed their projects and the writing table. Children can choose from several play areas including a kitchen, blocks, a reading area, science area, puzzles, or sensory projects that change daily and weekly.
What is the biggest piece of kindergarten readiness? Would you believe it is self- regulation? When children learn to control their impulses, they are better able to listen. Imagine in preschool that your child is taught to line up and wait their turn to try a new and exciting game. This small exercise helps your child to focus their attention. Controlling our impulses is really practiced all day long at preschool. This is achieved through familiar routines, and emphasis on kindness, and introducing hands-on and fresh activities.
Your students first years are a once-in-a-lifetime window of opportunity to discover their individual interests through play. We hope you enjoy helping your little ones explore, invent and absorb. Let your own child’s interests lead their way! If you are interested in registering your student for Life in Christ Preschool, Albertville, Minnesota click here.