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.
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.
#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.
#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.
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, there’s lots I can do!” What helps your child be ready for kindergarten? Here’s an infographic checklist.
Just recently, an infographic was shared in a group of parents and teachers with some pre-kindergarten goals. While a goal is something to work toward, not a requirement, many of us were concerned that these goals didn’t match the development of pre-kindergarten kids. Plus, they were all academic. Instead, we talked about what we thought were more appropriate ones. This infographic grew from that sharing.
Stay tuned for more posts on how to encourage readiness for your child. AND…what to ask the school to do to be ready for kids.
P.S. You are most welcome to share this with parents, caregivers, and anyone else connected with young children. Please, let me know any suggestions and if there are any typos…
With summer half-over, it’s time to start thinking about kindergarten. Kids need backpacks and toolboxes—well, a toolbox of interpersonal skills for school.
Some research published just this summer in the American Journal of Public Health has sparked some very interesting discussions. Hundreds of kindergarten kids were followed for almost 20 years! The results showed that social and emotional skills were a better predictor of future success than academic ones. The study not only looked at test scores but also employment and crime. Perseverance, self-regulation, self-discipline, and empathy were key.
Audie Cornish, an NPR National Public Radio host, brings the statistics into clear focus:
Put yourself, for a moment, with a bunch of kindergartners. Then try and predict which one of them might finish college and get a good job two decades down the road. Is it the kid who knows her ABCs or the kid who has a good memory? Well, new research has tracked children from kindergarten into young adulthood, and it’s found that the most important predictors of long-term success are not intellectual skills but social and emotional ones.
Researchers did not ask the question though, about how children learn these skills and strategies and when. Does it happen in kindergarten? Well, to some extent, but the teachers of these traits are parents. The most sensitive time for children’s development is before the age of 5, before kids arrive at school. The first classroom isn’t kindergarten, it’s home.
This doesn’t mean parents need to turn the house into a kindergarten boot-camp. Plus, the brain learns best during play. In following posts, we can explore some of the practical ways that parents can help children learn these critical life-skills. For today’s play-of-the-day, choose a favorite way that your child likes to play and think of it as ‘home-work’. Will your day get top marks for PLAY?
Off to School Tool Box: Eagerness to Learn The back-to-school flyers are appearing ‘cuz school starts soon. Here are some ways to help a child starting kindergarten, a sort of off to school tool box. Along with backpacks, there are some other things that help kids make the transition to school. Because the whole point … Continue reading Help a Child Starting Kindergarten #1→
Series Part #20: Is Following Instructions a Challenge for Your Child? Before children go to kindergarten, some areas do a readiness assessment, and one item is often following directions or instructions. This can be a concern for some children and the problem is not because a child has not heard or listened to the instructions. … Continue reading Following Instructions Helps Kids Going to Kindergarten→
Series Part #19: How Does Your Child Make Choices? On a list of things kids need to learn before starting kindergarten, you probably would not expect to see ‘Making Choices,’ but this is an important skill. You may be skeptical, but have you ever been too tired to even choose what cereal you want for … Continue reading Skill of Making Choices Important for Kindergarten→
Series Part #18: How Does Your Child Manage Risks? The ability to manage risks is not just important for grownups. it can impact children’s learning and influence their getting ready for the adventure of kindergarten. Because each child is unique, some will eagerly anticipate starting school and others will be hesitant or anxious. This can … Continue reading Getting Ready for Kindergarten and Taking Risks→
Series Part #17: Self-Confidence Important for Kids Starting Kindergarten Not just for kindergarten, but for anything and anyone, it’s much easier to start with an “I can do it!” attitude. Since children are not born with this confidence already locked in place, it needs to be part of the nurturing of parents and caregivers to … Continue reading Confidence Helps Kids Getting Ready for Kindergarten→
Series Part #16: Hands-on Play Suggestions There is no doubt that kids need hands-on play, but did you know that children need this play to help them get ready to start school in kindergarten? Hands-on fun stimulates all kinds of brain-connections for powerful thinking and learning. No matter if your child is at home or … Continue reading Hands-on Play Helps Kids Get Ready For Kindergarten→
Series Part #15: The Skill of Asking for Help Okay everybody, hands up, unless you are reading this on a hand-held device. Does your child know how to ask for help? Pretend that you are only 4 or 5 years old and just starting kindergarten. It’s a whole new place and many things are unknown … Continue reading Does Your Child Know How To Ask For Help?→