Saturday, June 16, 2012

So, my child is going to kindergarten?

Good morning!

Last week I promised that I would share some ideas for various summer activity ideas to ensure that learning continues right on throughout the months of June and July. I decided to try this from a different angle as many of our parents are preparing their child for the very first day of kindergarten. This entry will offer suggestions that are focused on getting ready for kindergarten. The first part of the blog will give ideas that are appropriate for home. Following this information are additional ideas/opportunities in the community. These ideas, of course, can be extended to include your school-age child as well. There are learning opportunities all around us!

Guest bloggers this week are Emily Branch and Tessa Trimm - both teachers at Petal Primary School. Mrs. Branch teaches kindergarten and is a Nationally Board Certified Teacher. Mrs. Trimm teaches one of our kindergarten/first grade looping classes. She is also a Nationally Board Certified Teacher. Both of these ladies have several years of experience working with young children and provide excellent leadership within our school. I know that these suggestions will be helpful. 

Your child’s first day of kindergarten is an exciting and important event, and there are many things you can do this summer to prepare your child for this experience.  In kindergarten, children learn many important social and academic skills.  These are some ways to get your child ready for his first big year of school.

Words! Words! Words!
In Kindergarten, your child will begin learning to read.  This summer, take as many opportunities as possible to read to your child.  Read everything!  Read books, billboards, words on TV, labels, everything!  Encourage your child to read things back to you after you’ve read them.  Help your child pick out letters that he knows as you’re reading. When you read stories, ask your child to draw a picture or tell you about the story.  Help your child learn to write his name and recognize the letters in it.

Talk to your child.  A good vocabulary is important to a child’s success in kindergarten and throughout school.  Talk to your child about everything.  Use “big words” and explain their meanings.  Ask your child “why” and “how” questions as often as possible.  Many everyday experiences provide great opportunities for learning.  Encourage your child to count things and problem solve when you’re in the grocery store.  Explore how things are alike and different with your child when you are at home or running errands.

Your child’s social life is also important.
In Kindergarten, your child will learn through collaboration with other children.  Children learn best by talking and playing with their peers.  Be sure to give your child opportunities to spend time with other children.  Encourage your child to take turns, share, and listen to other children when they are talking. 

Growing up is also an important part of kindergarten.
When children start school, they quickly become more independent.  As a part of a learning community, your child will have responsibilities.  Help your child by encouraging independence at home.  Give your child some responsibilities at home and encourage your child to do things for herself.  Small jobs around the house may also help your child be more successful with academic skills.  For example, organizing silverware provides a good experience with sorting.  Opening mail, tying shoes, tightening screws, and hammering may help your child develop fine motor skills which are necessary for handwriting.

Take advantage of opportunities in your community.
      The Center for Families and Children has an abundance of resources available for you and your child and they are absolutely FREE. The Center is open 5 days a week all summer. Utilize this resource to checkout academic games that will build literacy and math skills and provide an opportunity for you to spend valuable time with your child simply talking.

      The Petal Public Library offers story-time every Thursday at 10:00am. (Hattiesburg library offers story-time at 10:00 on Wednesday morning).  This would be an excellent opportunity for your child to sit with other children and listen to a story read aloud. And while you're there, get your child a library card and checkout a few books.  The library also offers a summer reading program for children that encourages reading and offers prizes and incentives as your child finishes a book.

The Hattiesburg Zoo offers summer camps throughout the months of June and July.  The zoo provides a great opportunity to spend time with your child observing animals in their habitats.  It also is an opportunity to read to your child about each of these animals.

Register your child for Kindergarten Jumpstart.  Jumpstart is a half day introduction to Kindergarten offered July 16-18.  Incoming kindergartners will be introduced to Petal Primary School throughout the day in a small group setting.  Our Kindergarten teachers will provide the incoming students with opportunities to experience circle time, hands-on centers, play on the playground, and tour the building. Please call the school office to register your child for one of these Jumpstart days.

The Children's Health Fair will be held July 19th at Petal Primary School.  This is a free service that provides dental, hearing and vision screenings for children.

       As you can see, there are all kinds of learning opportunities around us this summer. Please feel free to respond to the blog entry if you have other suggestions for great activities available. Also, your questions are welcome as well.  Blogs are meant to be interactive, so it is fine to comment or ask questions. Much thanks to Emily Branch and Tessa Trimm for sharing their expertise. 

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