Supporting Children's Success in Kindergarten and Beyond (page 3)
Getting a good start. The best foundation for kindergarten and later success in school is for children to have experiences that support them in growing, learning, and building relationships from the time they are born. The Early Learning Guidelines are designed to give you-as teachers, caregivers, and family members-some basic information about supporting children in all areas of learning and development as you think about and plan for their experiences.
Children are born eager to learn. The joy of learning is the best gift children can bring with them as they enter kindergarten. Adults nurture that joy by providing many different kinds of experiences for children, such as exploration, as well as one-on-one direct teaching, both individual and group activities, and through carefully planned activities and materials as well as taking advantage of spontaneous teachable moments. Children need ongoing experiences that are encouraging and challenging to keep them motivated to learn and off to a good start as successful learners.
Supporting Nebraska’s K-12 Standards. Each of the components in the Early Learning Guidelines is aligned with specific K-12 standards to show how that area of learning, activities, adult support, and environment connects to the continuum of learning in achieving Nebraska’s state standards.
Language development and experiences with stories, books, rhymes, music and rhythm, communication through conversations and play in the early years are important in learning to read. Environments that provide everyday experiences for counting, comparing and manipulating objects, and finding out how things grow and how things work help children develop knowledge and skills in mathematics and science. Secure relationships with parents, family members, teachers, caregivers, and other adults and children help children to feel emotionally safe and confident as learners and in their social interactions with others.
Communicating with kindergarten teachers. Information about the Early Learning Guidelines has been sent to elementary principals in public schools across the state to share with kindergarten teachers. The Guidelines are available on the Nebraska Department of Education web site. Ongoing efforts are planned to assure that kindergarten teachers have opportunities to become knowledgable about the Guidelines.
When family members, caregivers and teachers communicate about children’s learning, development, and experiences in the areas identified in the Guidelines, they can create a shared understanding of the whole child to best meet the learning needs unique to each child.
Supporting the transition to kindergarten. Activities to help children become familiar with the school before they attend kindergarten help them feel more comfortable when they arrive at school. It may be possible to arrange for groups of children to visit the school to see what it is like. It is possible that elementary students from the school can visit the home- or centerbased prekindergarten program to read to children, perform puppet shows or plays, demonstrate how their musical instruments work, or share other projects. Most schools have ‘kindergarten round-up’ as another event that signals the beginning of a formal link to the school.
Encouraging families to participate in school activities prior to the time their children enter kindergarten helps families to have a sense of being part of the school community. Schools that are open to community activities provide opportunities for families to become familiar with the school setting and establish connections with the school. Open communication between the kindergarten teacher and prekindergarten teachers, caregivers and families help to establish relationships that lead to increasing opportunities to work together.
“Ready” schools. Schools are required to accept all age-eligible children and are responsible for being ready to support each child’s learning. In Nebraska, children are entitled to attend school when they reach age 5 by October 15 of the school year. The wide range of abilities and experiences of children entering kindergarten creates a diversity that can be both exciting and, at the same time, concerning to kindergarten teachers who are challenged to meet the individual learning needs of all children. The Early Learning Guidelines can help to guide best practices that support learning and development in the years prior to kindergarten, and to also be supportive of best practices of kindergarten teachers in meeting the learning needs of the children in their classroom.
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