Getting Ready for Kindergarten: Parents and Parent Educators Offer Tips
When Rosario Padilla’s oldest daughter, now 12, started school in Manteca, “it was hard for her to adjust. She cried a lot and didn’t want to do the work,” she recalls. But Padilla thinks her youngest child will have an easier transition to school—she’s learning English from older siblings and has weekly visits from Ana Suche, a parent educator with the school readiness program, El Concilio.
Suche “taught me to sing to my daughter, to read to her, to explain to her what I’m doing as I’m doing it and talk to her about it,” says Padilla. Suche brings new books and toys—most recently a soft squishy ball and another with rubber bumps.
Getting ready for kindergarten isn’t just about learning letters, numbers, and shapes, say those who work with young children. “If a child can’t separate from mom without being upset, or tell an adult when they need to go to the bathroom, they can’t learn,” says Brandi Harrold, of the Tracy Unified School District’s School Readiness program. Parents and parent educators offer tips for helping children get ready for school.
Read with your child
“Read to your child, that’s the most important thing,” says Terry Eichel, a teacher at Washington Elementary in Alameda. The language in books is different from how we speak, she says—and if kids aren’t familiar with books, they can’t predict what’s going to come next. “It takes many students a long time to catch up,” she adds.
Reading with your child should be interactive, says Patty Casetta, mother of a four-year-old and a second grade teacher in Berkeley. She asks her daughter lots of questions about what’s going to happen, what the characters are doing and seeing, thinking and feeling. They also talk about how books are similar or different and how the events in books relate to their own lives. Casetta suggests parents check out their local library, but adds that children can also “start to recognize (words in neighborhood) signs. Trips to the store (can help children) learn new words and see new things.”
Reprinted with the permission of the Action Alliance for Children.
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