This week, the government of the United States started taking steps to update federal standards and the options and opportunities to provide early childhood education to all children nationwide.
Meanwhile, private organizations and non-profits are also stepping up to arm parents with tools they need to make sure our children are prepared for kindergarten.
Nearly 40 YMCAs across the country have launched a FREE early learning readiness program for informal family, friends and neighbor caregivers. The Y’s Early Learning Readiness Program uses an innovative approach to providing informal caregivers the tools and support they need to help prepare children in their care to enter kindergarten. The program is especially great for low-income, new or immigrant families. They are also collaborative and community-oriented as they allow caregivers and children to attend bi-weekly meetings together at neighborhood locations like their local Ys, community centers, libraries, schools and places of worship.
The programs are especially created for those who care for young children by providing them tools that simulate a preschool-like experience. They aim to improve young children’s school readiness and help make children’s transition to school easier.
Because the Y recognizes that preparing children for kindergarten should be fun and not stressful, they’ve offered these 10 tips that caregivers and parents should consider to make sure their child or children are ready for Kindergarten:
- Play games that encourage alphabet recognition – The alphabet go-fish game works as do those letter refrigerator magnets.
- Help your child with number recognition by counting items throughout the day, for example. Count out loud the crackers, grapes, or carrots you put out for them to eat for snack, for example.
- Help children recognize their colors. As you go about your day, talk about the colors in their cookies, toys or clothes, for example.
- Develop shape recognition and motor skills by getting your child to practice writing, drawing or cutting out (child-safe scissors please) shapes like rectangles, squares or stars.
- Talk about sounds that letters make and how they sound so they can begin to recognize words. Overemphasize the first sound in words to help your child learn to recognize individual sounds.
- Practice writing and drawing with colored pencils, crayons or markers to help them improve their motor skills.
- Read lots of stories and work up to longer books to help them develop good focus and learn to pay attention.
- Give children the opportunity to interact with other children in diverse settings and groups such as preschool, church, social groups, or play dates. Socialization is a big part of kindergarten.
- Teach children how to express their feelings. Help your child learn the best way to behave if she/he doesn’t like something. Role-play different situations she/he might expect.
- Teach children to write his/her name. You can make it fun with finger paint, sugar or salt in a pan, shaving cream or frosting.
Follow these tips to make sure your child is on track and ready to head to Kindergarten next fall.
For more information about enrolling in the Early Learning Readiness Program or general information about the Y’s commitment to families, please visit ymca.net.