By Deb Kraft & Dorothy Heitjan
Q. My child will be entering Kindergarten next fall, what can I do to ensure he/she is prepared?
A. It is vital in the preschool years to provide your child with the experiences that will build the foundation for later success in school. One must keep in mind the amazing developmental changes that occur in a child’s body and brain during the preschool years. In order to help your child build these neural connections, parents should provide:
- A variety of hands on experiences – dig in the dirt, cook, build
- Unstructured time to move and use the body – play on the playground, jump, swing, run
- Use toys that encourage imagination or thinking – plain blocks,
- Limit Screen Time
- Establish a good home routine – healthy meals and snacks, set bedtimes
Q. What is kindergarten like today?
A. Kindergarten is still your child’s first experience in a formal education setting. Kindergarten bridges working one on one with parents and working together with peers in small and large groups. Excellent kindergarten programs address the social and emotional, as well as the academic needs of your child. They provide opportunities for your child to play and learn in structured and unstructured situations. Kindergarten provides hands-on experiences to enable your child to connect what they already know to their new learning.
Kindergarten, however, has changed drastically in the last ten years. Expectations include many former first grade skills. Michigan Kindergarten State Guidelines and Expectations (GLCE’s) now include reading and writing. Sight words as well as emergent spelling skills are included. Knowing what a word and even what a sentence looks like in a story as well as reading and writing their own words and thoughts are expectations. These skills are at the emergent or beginning level. There are also new GLCE’s for math, social studies and science. Our students will recognize characteristics and patterns, know numerals to 100, count by twos and fives to thirty, and express story equations with drawings and numbers.
Q. How do I enroll my child?
A. Enroll your child at your school district’s administrative offices. You will need to provide a birth certificate, immunization records and physical examination forms (in September), and proof of residency. You should enroll your child as early as possible. By enrolling your child, you are placed on the public school mailing list and will receive important information by mail. When enrolling your child, you may have to choose between programs. Current kindergarten programs include the traditional half-day program as well as all-day programs (ADK) or extended day programs (EDK).
Until then, enjoy talking, playing, riding, cooking, building, and exploring with your child every day!