Readiness for Kindergarten

New Years Resolution #11-Getting Ready for KINDERGARTEN Everyday

Chances are good one day in the future your child will go to kindergarten. Getting ready for kindergarten everyday is the best way and the best time is now. That’s because 90% of the brain develops before the age of 5. The graph below shows the window of opportunity. The high spots happen earlier than we imagine.

brain development
Sensitive Periods in Early Brain Development (Permission to reproduce has been provided by the Human Early Learning Partnership) (http://www.earlylearning.ubc.ca)

Getting ready for kindergarten is something you and your child can do every day. And the best news is, it’s not hard and won’t add to the to-do list. It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3.

  • #1. Fill the day with words. This can be singing, telling stories, sharing silly jokes, and having conversations. Kids need to hear millions and millions and millions of words to develop skill with language. Research estimates the number of words children’s brains process to be between 3 and 10 million a year. That’s just over 10 million words for some kids, and over 40 million for others. A gap of 30 million words. Think of your child’s brain as a sort of bank account for words. Would you want your child to have only 10 million or over 40 million? Enrich your child’s day with words.musical activities for kids
  • #2. Read and share books and stories. This need only take a few minutes every day to add up to an entire library of books downloaded into your child’s brain account. Say you read 5 stories a day, a few days a week, about 25 books a week. Is that doable? Here’s how it adds up. 4 weeks a month makes 100 books. In a year, over 1000. By the time your child goes to school, there are 5000 books and stories ready in the brain. That’s a tremendous number of resources you have built up with just a few stories a day. And yes, one book that’s read a thousand times still counts.reading to children
  • #3. Whee. Kids absolutely need to move. Children’s bodies are growing on the outside and brains on the inside. Bodies and brains are a powerful team. Movement activities create special pathways in the brain. Kids use these for all kinds of thinking skills. On a sensory level, we need to engage the senses of touch, sight, hearing, taste, smell as well as the body’s position in space and the sense of movement. A child’s day needs space and time to move and be active.getting ready for kindergarten everyday

Finally, PLAY. Play is the brain’s favorite way to learn. Likely, your family is busy but kids don’t see the difference between work and play. Building with blocks is play to a child, but so is vacuuming. Floating a boat in the bathtub is play, and so is helping to wash dishes. You can include a few appropriate tasks for your child along with singing songs, reading books, kicking balls, making a blanket fort, and pretending.

Parents and caregivers are really children’s first teachers. Kids arrive at school with a learning foundation. Unfortunately, about one-third to one-half start school unprepared for the learning challenges. Could you use some help?

Each day, the 123kindergarten blog post is a play of the day. Check back each day for some Vitamin PLAY. There’s also a new video course with tons more play and learning suggestions. Doable, practical, child-tested and family friendly. Getting ready for kindergarten everyday really is as easy as 1, 2, 3, isn’t it?

 

 

Before I Go to Kindergarten #19: Kids Need Curiosity

Is Your Child Curious and Eager to Learn?

As parents, if you were given a choice, would you choose being curious or being smart for kids? For success at school and life, kids need curiosity.

before kindergarten kids need curiosity

Because kids always seem to be asking questions and wanting to know how something works, we overlook the critical importance of curiosity. But it’s a powerful and vital learning strategy. We say someone is smart when they already know something but being curious means exploring the unknown. Dr. Bruce Perry calls it “The Fuel of Development.” (Scholastic, Curiosity: The Fuel of Development) It drives us to discover and want to know. It means ask questions.

nature treasure hunt

We all know kids ask questions. By the time kids are just 4 years old, they have already asked about 40,000 probing questions. No wonder, parents, caregivers, and teachers sometimes think questions are driving them crazy. This sounds even crazier, but we need to nurture children’s questions and curiosity.

Some of the ways we can encourage curiosity are practical. Kids need to know it’s okay to make a mess. They also need some basic items and training for how to clean them up. A supply of sponges and rags, a small hand broom, and a dustpan that kids can reach are musts. Take some time and show your child how to sweep bits into the dustpan. Getting a sponge or rag wet is part of washing up, but little hands need to practice squeezing out lots of water so they don’t make the mess worse. Not all kids will worry about making a mess, but just in case it happens, it’s good to be able to clean it up instead of getting in trouble.

kids need curiosity

Another way to boost curiosity, is to recognize effort. When babies are first learning to walk, we smile, make eye contact, talk, use positive words, and invite them to try. Somehow, though, we forget this as kids get even a little older and only notice achievement. We need to be positive about the trying. A volcano science experiment may not work the first time but we can still say, “Wow, that volcano didn’t fizz but I can see you have lots of questions. You are figuring out what doesn’t work too.”

kids need curiosity

Questions invite more questions, so we can also ask some. Asking kids, “Why do you think that happened?” invites them to connect what they are discovering.

Kids need curiosity to learn. A diet of questions, time to play, encouragement to explore, and recognition of efforts will fuel our children’s curiosity. What are your thoughts, does limiting curiosity limit the future?

Before I Go to Kindergarten #18: Communication Skills Impact Kids

Are Communication Activities and Play Part of Your Child’s Day?

 

More and more we are adding to the list of what’s important for kids beyond academics. Do you know how deeply communication skills impact kids?

communication skills for kindergarten

Some very recent research published in Science Daily has found that the level of language stimulation for young children can be a factor in childhood depression.

“Children who experience low levels of language learning stimulation beginning at three years of age are more likely to experience language delays by first grade and are three times more likely to develop depression by third grade, new research indicates.” (Science News, University of Missouri-Columbia: Early-life language stimulation, skills may prevent childhood depression)

While new, this finding that communication kids affect kids so critically isn’t surprising. It’s hard for kids to communicate what they want and need in the first place. They don’t have the words or the language patterns. They are confused by their own feelings. Not everyone can understand what they mean. Now, for kids who have challenges with language, the problem is incredibly frustrating. They lose confidence in themselves. They can’t trust others. They are heart-broken and give up trying. Sound like depression to you?

communication skills impact kids

Could you use some communication activities and play ideas to boost language stimulation? Doable, parent-friendly, child-tested suggestions are:

  • Read and share books. This is one of the easiest to do. You can snuggle together and read any time of the day. Tuck a few books into a bag for waiting in line, going on the bus, etc.
  • Tell stories. No equipment needed, other than imagination. Make up stories about anything: the shoes that couldn’t wait so they left by themselves, a magic box of crayons, an upside down rainbow. You might find this hard at first but imagination will stretch quickly.
  • Sing songs. Sing favorites, make up silly songs to old tunes. Hum Mulberry bush and sing, “This is the way we vacuum the floor, vacuum the floor, vacuum the floor.”
  • Have conversations. Notice your child is upset about something? Grab 2 stuffies and have them talk about the problem. Use words that your child might need.
  • Stir in words. For everyday situations, include words. At the store, talk about what you need. Ask yourself questions and answer them. Describe the colors, sizes, of fruits and veggies. Doing the laundry, sort the clothes with words, “Okay, shirt. You have dark stripes, so I think you go in the dark pile.” Ask your child questions, and wait for the answer. Sometimes finding the words takes time but a smile invites kids to talk.communication activities for kids

None of these need you to be a rocket-scientist. They are ordinary. Maybe that’s the problem. It’s hard to believe something so simple can make such a profound difference. Helping kids to use language so others understand them is more than helping prepare them for kindergarten. It’s giving them the biggest tool or strategy possible for interacting with others. Communication skills impact kids now and in the future. If ever there is a magic wand in life, it’s language. In a way, maybe words—any words—really are magic?

Before I Go to Kindergarten #17: Language Stimulation is Critical for Kids

What’s so important about listening to stories and singing songs? Because language stimulation is critical for kids. Any language and every word. We all communicate to each other using language. While we also use gestures and facial expressions, we rely on words. Have you ever traveled to another country where you couldn’t speak the language? … Continue reading Before I Go to Kindergarten #17: Language Stimulation is Critical for Kids

Before I Go to Kindergarten #16: Pretend Play Helps Learning

According to Einstein, “Imagination is more powerful than knowledge.” Therefore, a powerful activity for preparing kids for school is pretend play. We can’t see from the outside but as kids engage in pretend play their brains are seriously working. Brains are connecting different bits of information kids already know to actions and emotions. For example, … Continue reading Before I Go to Kindergarten #16: Pretend Play Helps Learning

Before I Go to Kindergarten #15: Play with School Tools

Every profession or trade has tools. For kids, those are crayons, paint, glue, scissors, etc. Kids need to play with school tools before kindergarten. Play is the work of the child. This earlier post has a description of some tools and how to use them: Once you have crayon-proofed, perhaps that should be kid and … Continue reading Before I Go to Kindergarten #15: Play with School Tools

Before I Go to Kindergarten #14: Children’s Independent Play with Toys

Are you wondering how the item: children’s independent play with toys can be a ‘requirement’ for kindergarten? How kids play gives developmental clues. Play on the outside reflects what’s happening inside physically, mentally, and emotionally. Let’s watch kids playing with puzzles. When kids first start playing with puzzles, they need large pieces made of wood, … Continue reading Before I Go to Kindergarten #14: Children’s Independent Play with Toys

Before Kindergarten #12 Familiarity with Letters, Numbers, Rhyme Words

Are Letters a Familiar Friend for Your Child? Do kids need to know the alphabet before kindergarten? This is a common question and the answer is some basic familiarity with letters helps. In this video below, the parrot can say all the letters. Just because kids are able to say the names of the letters … Continue reading Before Kindergarten #12 Familiarity with Letters, Numbers, Rhyme Words

Before Kindergarten #11 Familiarity with Numbers, Letters, Rhyming Words

Are Numbers a Friend for Your Child? To Dr. Dan Gartell, readiness is a state of mind, not one of knowledge. Familiarity with , numbers, letters, and rhyming words helps kids’ peace of mind. Being in a new situation like daycare, playschool, preschool, or kindergarten is exciting but also scary for kids. Every bit of … Continue reading Before Kindergarten #11 Familiarity with Numbers, Letters, Rhyming Words

Before I Go to Kindergarten #10: Physical Development for Kids

Physical development for kids can vary greatly, especially during the preschool years of 0 to 5, but follows a similar pattern and sequence. The milestone, “I can hop on 1 foot, jump, and run, is quite general. It is only meant as a guideline not as something kids have to do by the end of … Continue reading Before I Go to Kindergarten #10: Physical Development for Kids