Spring has sprung, flowers are blooming, and kindergarten round ups are in full swing.
If your child will be 5 years old by September 1, 2017 (September 10 for Salem-Keizer), the time to register him/her for the upcoming school year is now.
But wait! Just because your child is chronologically ready for kindergarten, how can you be sure that s/he is ready for the complex world of kindergarten? Many parents get excited when their preschool aged children show early signs of reading, counting, or color recognition. Demonstration of these skills often times set off a lightbulb for parents of, “Yes! You are ready to go to be a kindergartener!” Although these aforementioned skills are all developmental milestones to celebrate, however, they are not the only indicators that signify a child is ready for kindergarten. In addition to ABC’s and 123’s, it’s just as important (if not more!) to also take note of their social emotional development and their “approach to learning.”
Head Start defines Approaches to Learning as:
. . .observable behaviors that indicate ways children become engaged in social interactions and learning experiences. Children’s approaches to learning contribute to their success in school and influence their development and learning in all other domains. Children’s ability to stay focused, interested, and engaged in activities supports a range of positive outcomes, including cognitive, language, and social and emotional development. It allows children to acquire new knowledge, learn new skills, and set and achieve goals for themselves. Many early learning experts view approaches to learning as one of the most important domains of early childhood development.
Approaches to Learning are not about counting to 100 or being able to recognize all the letters in the alphabet. It’s not even about whether or not your child can correctly name all of the colors in the rainbow. Approaches to Learning have to do with whether or not your child capitalizes on his/her curiosity; to want to ask questions of why something happened and how it can to be that way. It’s about if your child can initiate play with another or if s/he gets excited to see how a new toy in the classroom works. Approaches to Learning are about how your child meets a new learning opportunity with inquisitiveness and perseverance.
In alignment with Approaches to Learning, The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) lists several criteria to look for to see if your child is ready for kindergarten. Some of these criteria include:
- Asking for help when s/he needs it
- Identifying and pursuing his/her own interests, choosing materials and having some ideas about how to engage with them productively
- Sustaining engagement with an activity or process
- Listening to others and taking appropriate turns for expressing ideas and questions.
- Handling materials respectfully and putting them away.
Parents can help support approaches to learning by encouraging their children to bask in wonder and ask questions of why and how. If parents don’t know the answer to a question, encourage resourcefulness by supporting children in the process of how to search for an appropriate answer. Model for kids what it feels like to be excited for new situations and learning opportunities. Remember, it’s not about “drill and kill” in order to prepare children for kindergarten, this just puts unnecessary pressure and anxiety on kids to “be correct.” Supporting the development of approaches to learning will help your child be more curious, resourceful, and show characteristics of perseverance when learning.
The Parenting Hub has many more resources for kindergarten readiness. If you’d like more information please send inquiries to: firstname.lastname@example.org