Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Defining Kindergarten Readiness Once and For All!

November 10, 2010 by  
Filed under Parenting From Balance©

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Ready to Learn

Now, Everything you need to know to get your child ready for kindergarten!

by Janet Gonzalez- Mena, MA  “Child Family and Community”

A narrow and simplistic view of what is “Ready to Learn” focuses on teaching academics to young children.  Focusing on early academics is a cheaper but far less effective road to school success than what the brain research indicates.  Good health and social -emotional stability in the early years of life are the real roads to later achievement.  Cognitive development is vitally tied to  the social-emotional realm of development (Lally, 1998; Shore, 1997; Zigler, Finn-Stevenson, & Hall, 2003)

Kindergarten readiness, a hot topic among politicians, is also a hot topic among parents.  With this in mind, let’s look at how kindergarten readiness goes far beyond learning the ABC’s and starts way back in infancy.

Here are some general indicators that early childhood educators agree show children are prepared to enter kindergarten:

1. Children who are ready for kindergarten are those who feel good about themselves.

The problem is that much of the discipline used makes children feel bad about themselves.  Children don’t feel good about themselves  by being made to feel bad.  Discipline should not only leave self-esteem intact but should also actually raise it when adults use modeling, guidance, and feedback.  Communication is an important part of discipline; adults should discuss feelings and behavior instead of criticizing  the child.  Adults who understand the importance of communication separate the child from the behavior, saying things like “I won’t let you hit your sister – it hurts her” instead of “Stop that, you bad boy!”

2. Children who are read for kindergarten are those who gain knowledge from mistakes.

Some of the best lessons come from things that don’t work.  It’s easy to take the lesson out of the mistake by rescuing children so they don’t learn about the consequences of their actions.  Or the opposite situation occurs when the adult reacts to a mistake with harsh punishment.  When children become fearful of mistakes, they quit risking.  Reasonable risks are good learning devices.  This child who avoids them misses out on a lot of important lessons.

3. Children who are ready for kindergarten can communicate.

They have lots of experience in talking and listening.  They know how to carry on a conversation.  A conversation means not just talking but listening and responding appropriately as well.  Adults should start emphasizing communication early.  Even infants enjoy conversation and taking turns “talking.”  They also play with language.  As children grow older, keeping a playful attitude toward language helps encourage it.

4. Children who are ready for kindergarten can weigh alternatives and make sound choices.

Visualizing alternatives and their consequences in an important life skill.  Children who arrive in kindergarten with plenty of opportunities to practice this skill come better prepared.  When the “prepared child” gets hit by another child, she asks herself, “What are some ways I can react, and what are the consequences of each?”  The child without the ability to visualize alternatives just lashes back without thinking.  Aggression, in the face of aggression is a poor choice.  Some children never learn that, unfortunately.  Some children have no ability to imagine any response other than hitting.

5. Children who are ready for kindergarten can concentrate and focus.

If they can’t do that, the problem may be too much television.  It might seem as though children develop a long attention span from watching television, because they are willing to sit and stare at it for long hours.  But turn it off and what happens?  They don’t know how to entertain themselves.  We add to the problem by over scheduling their time.  Children don’t develop long attention spans when they are never allowed to play for long periods, never free to follow their inclinations to get involved in something of their own choice, never encouraged to work at length on some project they are interested in (Elkind, 2007).  Adults tend to interrupt children, hurry them up, get them going on the next event. Preschool programs can contribute to the problem if they keep children on a tight schedule, move them rapidly from one activity to another, and never give them a chance to work at length or in depth on anything.

At Riviera PlaySchool we nurture children in all of the aforementioned ways, so that social, emotional, and cognitive intelligence is developed to full capacity.  Learning through play, and experiential learning, is the way children learn, and we honor that.

Lots of Love,  Linda

Riviera PlaySchool in Redondo Beach, CA

TEACHING FROM BALANCE

A Mindful program for the ‘Whole Child,’ inspired by the best of Attachment Parenting, Reggio Emilia, Montessori, Waldorf and Non-Violent (Compassionate) Communication.

“Wisdom begins in wonder.    -    Socrates

“Do not train children to learning by force and harshness, but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.”

“People are people no matter how small.”  ~ Horton

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