Mastery of Early Math and Reading Skills by Kindergarten Linked to Better School Performance Later (page 3)
Everyone knows letters and numbers are a basic part of any good preschool curriculum. But a new study shows just how important these early skills are. In fact, when kids enter kindergarten with a good grasp of fundamental math and reading concepts, they do far better in school in the long run.
Looking at existing data from six separate large studies of child development, the researchers found that mastering early reading and math skills by the start of kindergarten was associated with better performance in elementary and middle school. Although reading and attention skills were somewhat linked to later performance, entering kindergarten with solid fundamental math skills was the greatest predictor of a child's later school success.
Putting It in Perspective
All kids learn and develop at different rates. What comes naturally to one might take a little longer for another. As one child excels in math, another may conquer reading. And although it's essential to help preschoolers develop their early learning skills, it's also important not to push too hard or to hold them to a standard they're just not ready to achieve.
Behavior at this age can also vary from child to child — some may be completely cooperative, attentive, and respectful, whereas others may have a harder time staying put in circle time, participating in projects, or getting along with their classmates. Preschoolers should certainly be taught early behavioral and social skills — like sharing, paying attention, sitting still, taking turns, and playing nicely. But not all children will master those skills at the same rate — and that's OK.
Of course, some kids do have early behavioral problems that warrant a closer look. It's a good idea to talk to a doctor if children are, for example, angry, aggressive, defiant, disruptive, impulsive, hyperactive, sad, or withdrawn more often or more severely than their peers. All kids exhibit some behavioral, social, and emotional issues on occasion. But if a problem persists, early intervention is key.
What This Means to You
To prepare kids for kindergarten, it may help to hone skills in:
- Read aloud to your child every day using all kinds of age-appropriate reading materials — poetry books, picture books (even those without words), nonfiction, magazines, even catalogues.
- Don't hesitate to read favorite books over and over again.
- Move your fingers under the words as you read.
- Let them finish certain lines ("I do not like green eggs and.... / I do not like them, Sam....").
- Ask them to point out letters or words they might recognize as you read.
- Sound out words slowly once kids can recognize all of their letters.
- Point out letters as you drive, shop, walk around the house, etc.
- Talk about the story afterwards — how it began, what happened in the middle, what they thought of the ending, and which characters and parts they liked best and why.
- Count together as often as you can — while you walk up and down stairs, put away toys, dole out snacks, color with crayons, swing at the playground, play with blocks, put groceries in your cart, etc.
- Start counting things up to 5 early on then work up to 10, 15, and 20.
- As you count, stop at a certain point (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6…) and encourage kids to figure out what comes next.
- Read picture books highlighting numbers and encouraging counting.
- Look for and point out numbers (1 to 10) everywhere you go — on street signs, license plates, in catalogues, on food boxes, in stores, etc.
- Teach kids their age — how to count it on their fingers, then eventually how to recognize, trace, and then write the number.
Try to make early learning a fun, everyday activity. Nurture and praise your child's academic and social strengths and efforts, and help your little one work on (but never emphasize) weaknesses.
Source: "School Readiness and Later Achievement," Developmental Psychology, November 2007.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2009 The Nemours Foundation. All rights reserved.
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