School Readiness

School Readiness

Information compiled by Linda N. Stuhlman for use at workshop on March 24, 2011

Children following developmental paths naturally become more interested in learning and in being part of a group. However, it is the responsibility of the parent to promote learning in the home prior to a child joining an early education program or a kindergarten program. The Connecticut State Department of Education Benchmarks on personal and social, physical, cognitive and creative expression serve as a guide for early education and care professionals as well as parents. A summary of traits is listed here. A suggestion is to look online at www.chdi.org then do a search for Caring for Connecticut’s Children.

Two and three year olds ready to start an early education program show the following traits: use 4 word sentences, ask questions, show an interest in other children, imitate adults and peers, play make-believe, jump with feet together, run and swing, do puzzles, look at books, make music and are ready to be away from the family for short periods of time.

Four and five year olds ready to start kindergarten show the following traits: curious to learn, interested in pleasing others, have moved from me to we and want to be part of groups, have self control and follow rules, interested in drawing and printing, able to pump swings and kick a ball, follow 3 step directions, able to tell the story after looking at a book, use descriptive language, independent in self-care, able to express emotions and feelings in words, able to pay attention for 20 minutes, recognize some letters and numbers.

School’s readiness to receive a child is generally based on age but some private programs have other requirements. Early education centers are licensed by the State Dept. of Public Health and children need to be 3 by December 31 to register in preschool. Early care centers are able to take children as soon as they are 3 months old. The public schools kindergarten entrance age is determined by the State Dept. of Education and children need to be 5 by December 31. Ct. is one of a very few states where a child is eligible for kindergarten prior to turning 5; most states use September or October as the cutoff date. Some parents choose to have their child wait to enter kindergarten until they are fully five.

In early education and care centers, one of the most difficult tasks for child is to be able to separate from parents. A weaning process that gives the parents and child the opportunity to visit and develop trust in the teachers is essential. In kindergarten, there is less involvement on the teacher’s part in the social and emotional lives of the children and there is not as much play as there is in preschool. There is less supervision of children as they grow older, particularly on the bus and on the playground. In both settings for parents to learn what goes on in their children’s school lives, communication (conferences, newsletters, open houses, classroom visits, and everyday checks of the backpack for papers) is essential.

Research shows that school achievement is related to self control. Some ideas for parents to use at home to promote self regulation are listed here.

  1. Establish family rules.
  2. Help children monitor their own behavior.
  3. Make play and games an important part of your home environment, both inside and outside. True play is unstructured and uses a variety of props which do not need to be expensive toys. Games are board games, impromptu softball games, bowling, etc. not electronic games on the computer or tv screen.
  4. Offer visual and tangible reminders. Let your kid use lens free glasses to check to see if the toys are picked up. Use music, bells, or a timer to transition. (check www.timetimer.com)  Use dice or short straws to decide whose turn it is.
  5. Routine repeated over and over helps children develop a sense of structure and organization needed in group settings.
  6. Daily chores appropriate for the age of the child build confidence.
  7. Help children learn to make wise choices.
  8. Establish personal hygiene, sleeping, and eating patterns.
  9. Let your children know that you care about their education but as they get older it is ultimately going to be their responsibility and that you trust that they are capable!
  10. Get involved in your child’s school as a volunteer. When your children know that you care about their school, they care too!

Where to get answers to questions about readiness

Best Beginnings Early Education and Care consultant, call 860-669-7246, Linda N. Stuhlman

Best Beginnings School Psychologist consulting, call 860-664-6501 and ask for Kim Brown

Clinton Public Schools Preschool Screening, call 860-664-6505 for an appointment

Developmental milestones website, www.cdc.gov/actearly

Early Childhood Consultation Project, 203-235-2815 and ask for Sara Schmidt, MSW

Kidsteps, Birth to Three Program, www.sarah-inc.org or 203-318-3692

Pediatricians (take a list of questions with you!)

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