Get Ready for Kindergarten!

 

kindergarten

Being ready for kindergarten means that your child is able to attend to and learn the information being presented in the academic setting and is emotionally able to interact appropriately with her teacher and fellow students.

What are some of the skills expected of a child entering kindergarten?

  • Can identify letters, and knows many of the sounds a letter makes
  • Can identify the beginning sound of some words and may recognize some common sight words
  • Can write his name and holds a pencil or crayon correctly
  • Can complete a 12 piece puzzle
  • Can hold and use scissors correctly
  • Runs, jumps, skips and manages stairs
  • Counts up to 10 objects
  • Listens without interrupting
  • Can pay attention for a short time period to an adult directed task
  • Follows simple directions
  • Can wait his turn and expresses feelings with words, as opposed to being physical when angry
  • Can play appropriately with other children
  • Can go to the bathroom by himself
  • Can separate from parents

What are some things I can do to prepare my child for kindergarten?

  • Read daily with your child and discuss what you read. Connect it to her daily experience. If reading a book about animals, relate it to your last visit to the zoo. 
  • Have an active social life. Give your child lots of opportunities to play with others and practice sharing and social skills. 
  • Encourage your child’s independence by giving them chores around the house; have her select her clothes, dress herself, help her make her own snack.  
  • Help your child ‘write’ letters to friends and family members. You can begin by tracing letters on paper or in the sand box. Graduate to pencil and paper writing and have it available to work with.
  • Play sound games including rhyming words, making up silly songs, repeating tongue twisters.
  • Talk to your child about kindergarten and what her day will be like, visit the school if possible and try to set up a play date with future classmates. Encourage your child to talk to you about kindergarten as well.

If you have serious reservations about whether your child is ready for kindergarten, some districts offer kindergarten evaluations and can give you feedback. You may also consider having your child formally assessed by a psychologist who can assist you in your decision making process for kindergarten.

Resources

http://www.abilitypath.org/areas-of-development/learning–schools/pre-academic-skills/articles/toolkit-pre-academic-skills.html More ideas from AbilityPath on helping ensure your child has developed appropriate academic skills.

www.ReadingRockets.org Information on how to launch a child into a bright future through reading.

Building Early Mathematics Skills

boy_blocks

Math is more than adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing numbers. Developing early math skills helps build critical thinking and problem solving skills for young children. Rest assured, there’s no need to hire a tutor; these early skills are often learned during times of play!

As your little one begins moving around to explore, they start noticing the size and shapes of their toys and other objects that surround them. With these activities, children learn the basics of math. They learn:

  • Numbers
  • Shapes and space
  • Measurements, volume and quantities
  • Patterns and predictions

Children with developmental delays may also have delays in acquiring pre-academic skills. Try to introduce concepts and activities appropriate to your child’s level. This will foster success and self-esteem that will enhance the learning process for your child.

Building Early Mathematics Skills – Numbers

teacherstudentnumbers

Children begin to learn and recognize numbers after hearing and seeing them repeatedly. It is likely that your child will begin counting as a result of memorization first and will then associate the number with real objects later. Understanding that spoken numbers mean real amounts is also referred to as one-to-one correspondence.

Example Activities:

  • Ask “how many” when pointing to objects or number of fingers being held up.
  • Give instructions that include numbers, “Bring me two books please!”
  • Encourage your child to touch each object as he or she counts. Typically children skip objects or miscount as they are learning the concepts.
  • Sing or read books that use numbers.

Building Early Mathematics Skills – Shapes

boy_puzzle

Circles, squares and even triangles can likely be found throughout your home. Take advantage of those teachable moments and allow your child to safely play with toys and other household objects that safely illustrate various shapes. As a child develops language skills, he can then identify the names of each shape.

Example Activities:

  • Point out and identify common shapes in the house, “The clock is a circle.”
  • Match shapes to each other, such as with a shape sorter or simple puzzle.
  • Construct simple block structures, such as building towers or a “train,” where three or four blocks are aligned next to each other. As a child develops, she will likely add props such as animals, cars or dolls to these structures to create places towns or zoos.
  • Build with different-shaped blocks. This helps children develop an understanding of fractions, such as understanding that two squares are equal to one rectangle or that two halves make a whole.

Building Early Mathematics Skills – Space

kids_cars

Understanding directions such as up/down, over/under, in front of/behind, above/below and, left/right is also very important, helping a child navigate her surroundings and the world. Understanding this concept, also known as spatial relationship, is essential for developing math skills.

Example Activities:

  • Encourage your child to climb/maneuver “over”, “through”, “around”, “in”, and “out” of tunnels and play equipment
  • Play on obstacle courses and playground equipment
  • Use sensory play
  • Drive toy cars in and out of a toy garage and around on roads or tracks

Early Mathematics Skills – Measurement, Volume and Quantity

girls_sorting

Exploring quantity and physical attributes such as big, little, length and weight are important to know in building math skills. Putting together objects and taking them apart also promotes the concept of adding and subtracting.

Example Activities:

  • Cook together to promote an understanding of measurement quantities, and early fractions
  • Sort laundry together, putting Daddy’s BIG clothes in one pile and Baby’s little clothes in another.
  • Build with Legos and blocks to develop an understanding of quantity or pour beans into cups of different sizes
  • Take Play-Doh from one formed ball to make another sized ball.

Building Early Mathematics Skills – Patterns and Predictions

girl_beads

Introducing patterns such as shapes, numbers, and sounds and encouraging children to predict patterns help build critical thinking skills. Engaging children in guessing how long something might take or how one thing can affect another (such as determining if a heavier object sinks faster than a lighter object) can be fun for the whole family!

Example Activities:

  • Sort and classify objects by characteristics, such as size, shape, or color. Children will begin with sorting by one characteristic at first. Later, children will learn to sort by multiple characteristics.
  • Stringing beads by patterns, for example, red-blue-red-blue, and beginning to predict what will come next. As a child develops, she will work toward increasingly complex patterns, such as red-red-blue-yellow-red-red-blue-yellow.
  • Play counting games where your child fills in the blanks
  • Pick something your child can predict—will the coin float or sink in a glass of water?

Building Early Mathematics Skills – Concerns

teacher_frustrated_student_1

Are you concerned about your child’s early learning abilities? Or is your child showing other developmental delays? If so, contact your child’s pediatrician, family doctor, or teacher. If further evaluation is needed, the doctor or teacher may refer you to an appropriate specialist such as a child psychiatrist, psychologist, or behavioral pediatrician. If you live in California, you may also be referred for evaluation and services to the local Regional Center or local early intervention programs outside of California, if your child is under age three. If your child is over the age of three you could be referred to your local school district. Trust your instincts and seek further evaluation if you have any concerns about your child’s development.

References:

Ginsburg, H. P., Blafanz, R., and Greenes, C. (1999) Challenging mathematics for young children. In Teaching for Intelligence II: A Collection of Articles, A. L. Costa, (Ed.). Arlington Heights, IL: Skylight.

Sandall, S. R. and Schwartz, I. S. (2008) Building Blocks for Teaching Preschoolers with Special Needs. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes.

Children’s Learning Styles

Learning styles is a term that refers to different ways in which we learn, process, and retain information. All young children learn through meaningful hands-on experiences—through touching, doing, and moving. And children also learn through seeing and hearing. As you observe your child, you will begin to identify strengths and preferences that tell you something about your child’s preferred learning style.

You want to foster your child’s strengths, but remember that it helps to challenge him to grow as well. Your child can excel in a variety of areas. Therefore, offer a variety of experiences to help your child develop new strengths and interests that will broaden his or her understanding of the world.

Types of Learning Styles

These are the four main types of learning styles:

  • Visual (learn through seeing)
  • Auditory (learn through hearing)
  • Tactile (learn through touch)
  • Kinesthetic (learn through doing and moving)

Visual learners learn through seeing. Children who are visual processors tend to observe a parent’s or teacher’s body language and facial expressions for content and learn through demonstrations and descriptions. They tend to have well-developed imaginations and often think in pictures. Too much movement or action in a classroom may cause distraction for them. For older children who read, written instructions may help clarify verbal directions.

Auditory learners learn through listening. Children who are auditory processors learn through participating in discussions and talking things through. Verbal directions may help clarify instructions or written information. Too much noise may be distracting and children with this strength may learn best in a quiet environment.

Tactile learners learn through touch. Children who are more tactile prefer activities or projects that allow them to use their hands. Your child may prefer doodling or drawing to aid memory.

Kinesthetic learners learn through moving and doing. Children who are more kinesthetic learn through physical sensations and may have trouble sitting still for long periods. A hands-on approach that allows your child to actively explore her physical world helps her learn best.

How Can You Determine Your Child’s Learning Style?

The best way to learn about your child’s learning style is to observe what he or she is doing. Actions, interests, and preferences will provide information about how he or she is processing information.

If your child has developmental delays, you may find that you often focus on what your child isn’t yet doing. Instead, try to focus on his strengths and favorite activities. All children, even the most challenged, have interests and preferences. Identifying these helps increase a child’s motivation for learning.

Speak with family members and your child’s team to develop an inventory of toys, objects, and activities that are meaningful for your child. Ask yourself questions like these:

  • What types of toys does she prefer? Does she prefer quiet activities or lots of movement?
  • Does he like to read books and draw pictures? Does he prefer to be shown how to do something rather than being told verbally?
  • Is she active? Does she like to move and participate in more active activities?
  • Is he drawn to numbers and patterns?

How Can You Support Your Child’s Learning Style?

Parents and teachers have a tremendous influence on children. Understanding how a child learns can improve how we teach them. Early childhood programs are often organized in a way that supports the range of children’s strengths and needs.

This includes having:

  • Adequate periods for movement
  • Group circle and music time
  • Learning centers in the classroom that include a myriad of experiences (for example, reading corner, block area, manipulatives/fine motor area, outdoor play, and art)

This supports participation of children with a wide range of learning styles, while also exposing children to experiences they may not typically seek out.

As adults, we can help children better understand their strengths and individual differences, while supporting challenges. You can seek out real-world experiences that extend your child’s learning. For example, if your child is interested in fish and aquatic life, visit an aquarium. Your child will retain more information and develop a broader understanding of the world if information is meaningful and presented in a way that meets his or her individual learning style.

References:

Gardner, H. (1993). Multiple Intelligences: The Theory in Practice. New York, NY: BasicBooks.

Edwards, L. (2002). The Creative Arts: A Process Approach for Teachers and Children. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall.

What Are Designated Instructional Services (DIS)?

Your child may be eligible for Designated Instruction Services (DIS), also known as related services. These support services help a child benefit from his special education program. They also help him make progress in the general curriculum. Eligibility is evaluated through an assessment during the IEP process or by referral after placement. DIS must be specified in writing on the IEP.

These are examples of DIS services:

  • Speech and language therapy provided by a speech pathologist for children with communication needs
  • Orientation and mobility instruction to teach a child with visual impairments how to navigate through his or her environment
  • Audiological services for a child with hearing loss
  • Physical or occupational therapy for a child with gross motor, fine motor, or self-care needs
  • Vision services for children with visual impairments
  • Mental health services provided by a mental health professional (a Clinical Mental Health Therapist)
  • Health and nursing services provided by a school nurse or other qualified professional for a child with special health care needs
  • Specialized physical health care services, for example, a child who uses a catheter and needs assistance
  • Extended school year or summer school
  • Transportation to and from school
  • Program aide or paraprofessional for a child who needs personal assistance
  • Individual Behavior Training, for example, applied behavior analysis

What is Inclusive Preschool Education?

Inclusive education is a system in which students with special needs can attend school with their typically developing peers. An inclusive preschool system integrates special education and related services into all aspects of its program. This makes it possible to address the needs of both special needs and typically developing children.

Teachers in an inclusive preschool should be both general education teachers and special education teachers working together with any paraprofessionals to support the unique learning needs of all students.

Teaching staffs in inclusive preschool programs must have knowledge of typical and atypical development and methods of instruction that reach all students. To both serve and advocate for students, they must also understand the importance of the relationships among children, family members, and staff. The vision for inclusive preschool is to have every child prepared to succeed in school as well as in life later on.

What should you look for in a quality inclusive preschool setting?

  • Teachers work together to provide for the needs of all students.
  • Parents, general education and special education teachers, and service providers work together to determine the students’ needs.
  • Program practices are research-based and culturally, linguistically, and developmentally appropriate.
  • Children have opportunities to work and play with each other throughout the school day.
  • There is a focus on the whole child.
  • The school provides a welcoming and ongoing relationship with the families, focusing on their needs.
  • There is a collaboration and partnership with families and communities.
  • The preschool is accountable for the improved outcomes for all students.

How can teachers encourage success in an inclusive school setting?

  • Aim for a low student-to-adult ratio and a ratio of typically developing to special needs students that is about eight to two.
  • Support general preschool and special education collaboration.
  • Seek parents as partners.
  • Provide support for staff development and parent education.
  • Ensure that teachers plan activities with an understanding of developmentally appropriate outcomes.
  • Make sure all adults participate or are briefed on proposed development outcomes and measures.
  • Schedule meetings regularly to look at data. This can help determine whether teachers are helping to meet goals and employing strategies that are research-based and culturally, linguistically, and developmentally appropriate.
  • Ensure individuals discuss issues or concerns openly and with a focus on solutions.
  • Provide time for adult collaboration, planning, and communication.