HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
September 25, 2006, Herald Journal

School readiness


What does it mean? What skills do our children need to be ready to begin school prepared to succeed?

The National Education Association describes school readiness as the “academic, independence, communication and social skills children need to do well in school.”

Being ready for school certainly entails more than just a child’s acquaintance to the alphabet, basic shapes, and numbers. Social readiness is as important as academic readiness and the other skills including communication and independence are certainly important as well.

The NEA notes that listening and speaking are the first steps to reading and writing in the preschool years. It offers these tips in helping your child with communication skills:

• Talk with your child. Have regular conversations with them.

• Answer your child’s questions.

• Encourage your child to listen and respond to others.

• Help your child learn and use new words.

• Model the language you want your child to use.

• Write notes to your child.

• Help your child dictate letters and notes to family and friends.

• Explore language through singing, rhyming, songs, and chant. Music is a wonderful instrument to focus on communication and vocabulary.

Delaney, our 2 year old, just began her Kindermusik class. Kindermusik programs are for children newborn through seven that, introduce children to the adventure of music and moving at their pace, engaging their interests and celebrating their discoveries.

Delaney loves it thus far. The program uses a lot of movement, and of course, music. It also focuses on building confidence, enhancing curiosity, self-control and communication.

After her first class session, which is held once a week for an hour, she came out of the building with her Kindermusik backpack filled with musical-related goodies that are part of the package, and said, “This is my own school with my own teacher.” She was so proud, especially when her two older siblings have their own school and their own teachers.

Kindermusik programs are well-established, well researched programs that benefit little ones in so many ways, but there are many things that we can do as parents and caregivers that will benefit our children and help them build their communication, academic, social, emotional and independence skills.

Singing, talking, reading and playing with them are simple, yet wonderful ways to increase our children’s skills and help them grow in so many positive ways.

I hope your school-aged children are enjoying their start to the new school year. Remember to keep talking with your children, no matter how old they are, about school and asking them questions about how school is going. It’s good to stay on top of things right from the start.

I am glad to report that my first grader “loves first grade,” lunches, recess, music, physical education and all that goes with the transition from half-day kindergarten to full-day first grade.

And my fourth grade son also is excited about fourth grade, and the differences from third grade. It is fun to hear him talk about the different activities that the teacher is doing with the class, versus solely paper and pencil activities. That’s important and makes learning seem not so much like learning to a child. Not that children don’t like learning, but sometimes kids can see it as a lot of work, so learning in disguise is good, too.

His teacher even does jumping jacks in front of the class when she mistakenly calls someone by the wrong name. This certainly helps create a connection between the teacher and the students, which helps on all levels. The little stuff can make big differences in classroom learning climate and atmosphere.

Hopefully the rest of the year will continue to be a wonderful learning experience for them as well as for your children!

“The school will teach children how to read, but the environment of the home must teach them what to read. The school can teach them how to think, but the home must teach them what to believe.”

– Charles A. Wells