Kindergarten can be a wonderful and exciting experience. However, for many working parents, preparing young children for school can be daunting, especially considering that the average US child spends 33 hours each week being looked after by a grandparent, friend or parent.
That is why nearly 40 YMCAs across the country have launched the FREE Early Learning Readiness Program for Informal Family, Friend and Neighbor Caregivers to provide those who care for young children a stimulating, preschool-like experience through learning centers that foster development, improve school readiness, support the skills and confidence of caregivers, and make the transition to school easier for children.
They also offer these 10 great tips to help prepare your child prepare for Kindergarten:
- Play games that encourage alphabet recognition - like alphabet go-fish, or play with the letter refrigerator magnets.
- Help your child with number recognition and count items throughout the day like crackers, grapes, or carrots out loud together.
- Help children recognize their colors and talk about the colors in their food, toys or clothes.
- Develop shape recognition and motor skills when you 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 hear the individual sounds.
- Practice writing and drawing with colored pencils, crayons or markers for improved motor skills.
- Read lots of stories and work up to longer books to develop good focus and attention skills.
- Give children the opportunity to interact with other children in diverse settings and groups such as preschool, church, social groups, or play dates.
- Teach children how to express their feelings if she/he doesn't like something and 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.
Preparing children for kindergarten should be fun and not stressful. The Early Learning Readiness Program uses an innovative approach to provide informal caregivers with the tools and support to provide children in their care better learning and development experiences.
The Early Learning Readiness Program offers high-quality physical, emotional and cognitive experiences for kids. Caregivers and children can attend bi-weekly meetings together at neighborhood locations such as local Ys, community centers, libraries, schools and places of worship.