Is Your Child Failing Preschool?
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Preschool and kindergarten used to be all about dress up and finger paint, but recent changes in curriculum in the elementary schools have changed that. It seems that the pressure being felt in elementary schools for greater academic gains have been pushed down to preschool, leaving parents and teachers alike stressed about what young children need to accomplish in preschool. What do children really need to know to be prepared for elementary school and is it possible that your child could fail preschool?
“Using the word 'fail' sets a negative tone and anxiety right from the get-go,” says Deanna Zerr, Early Childhood Teacher Trainer and owner of Unlimited Options. “Give these little people, as well as parents a break! Our little tykes are just coming into the world of "school" and we want it to be a glorious new world of exploring, playing, learning to do all kinds of great things. The goal is to set up the love of learning, not to expect them to know everything in those years.”
Below are some of the most common fears parents have about their children’s preschool skills and development. You will find information about what your child really needs to know and what may not be necessary at this age. If you are still concerned and would like to have a little extra practice at home, some fun, age appropriate activities for preschoolers are listed as well.
"My Child is Not Reading"
Your child does not need to be able to read before he enters kindergarten. Although some well meaning preschool teachers may feel that children should be sounding out words before they leave preschool, most early childhood educators understand that reading is a developmental skill that cannot be learned until a child is ready. A wide variety of skills such as letter recognition and vocabulary development will help build the foundation for reading and they can be practiced in a fun and relaxed way that will set the stage for reading success.
What you can do at home:
- Read to your child every day to build vocabulary and instill a love of learning.
- Play games to practice letter recognition and beginning sounds such as alphabet bingo or go fish with alphabet flash cards.
- Help your child read words in the environment. Street signs, cereal boxes and signs for favorite stores or restaurants are great first reading words.
"My Child Has Poor Fine Motor Skills"
What if your child can’t write neatly or cut curved lines with scissors? No need to worry, good kindergarten programs will give your child many opportunities to practice these skills. A good introduction about how to properly hold scissors and crayons and some fun practice should be enough to get your little writer ready for his future in writing essays and reports. Make practicing fun and your child won’t even know he is doing something good for him!
What you can do at home:
- Provide a wide variety of writing materials such as colored or textured paper, crayons, markers and colored pencils to pique your child’s interest in drawing and writing.
- Provide your child with child-safe scissors and something interesting to cut; old magazines or newspapers, used wrapping paper or even pieces of yarn or string. Be sure to discuss what scissors are not used for (cutting hair or clothing) and closely supervise your crafty child at work.
- Encourage your child to play with play dough, building blocks, stringing beads, stencils and other activities that will help strengthen the muscles of the hand that will be used for writing.