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Healthy Cells is a local health magazine with most of the articles written by local professionals. People love to read about healthcare from their local health professionals. Each month includes a wide variety of articles on various topics.
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Is Kindergarten Ready for Our Children?

We hear so much about school readiness and if children will be ready for kindergarten, but what about the schools being ready for our children? As an owner of an Early Learning Center, I recently had a parent approach me about her soon to be 5-year-old son. Her son was curious, active, loved to learn new things, excited about the learning process, and very teachable. He had a great sense of wonder about the world and was always asking questions.

The mother had been in many discussions with friends whose children had already started kindergarten at the same school her son will eventually attend. Her concern was if together we were “really” getting her son ready for kindergarten. Her biggest fear was that the kindergarten teachers wouldn’t have time to deal with her son’s curiosity and excitement about learning. Her friends had told her that asking lots of questions was behavior that might be frowned upon in Kindergarten.
    

Many times, schools put out readiness checklists. When looking over these lists, most of the tasks they expect have very little to do with the actual readiness process. Some of the questions checklists include are can they tie their shoes, can they tell you their phone number, can they write their name, can they cut with scissors on a straight line, or hold their pencil correctly? What they don’t ask is about the child’s social emotional growth.
    
Some questions they could ask include is your child teachable? Does he/she have a sense of wonder about the world? Can your child take care of themselves in a non-parental setting? Can they use the bathroom, button their own clothes, take care of their own messes, and eat appropriately with a group? Does your child communicate well? Is your child emotionally mature enough to express their feelings appropriately, ask for help when needed, and solve problems with other children?
    

Social-emotional growth varies greatly in all children. While most preschoolers have the words they need to describe what they like or dislike, want or don’t want, adults need to help children gain the words they need to describe how they think and feel. Once children understand this about themselves, they can then begin to understand how other children may think or feel.
    

Unfortunately, parents today often feel that children must be prepared to compete early, to succeed from the beginning. Some parents also wonder if children who have not attended an early learning experience, such as preschool or day care, will be behind others that have attended.
    

Due to these concerns, some parents feel the need to prepare their children by teaching them rote learning in reading, writing, and math. While this is understandable, applying pressure to children to perform too early actually reduces the child’s opportunities for exploration, play, and learning that comes with experimentation. This can sometimes cause frustration or boredom, which in turn, can set the stage for a sense of anxiety. What is important is the child’s own eagerness to learn and her self-concept. She must feel that she herself is in control of her learning. If a child has these characteristics, she will thrive at the next level.
    

All children grow and develop at different rates. It would be a fallacy to believe that all children are ready at the same time. All children deserve to grow and develop at their own pace and have this pace respected. The goal should be to build an interest in learning in the child herself. Too many times, children are pushed because they are bright enough, but not enough attention is paid to maturity, readiness, and social emotional development.
    

Your decisions as parents can play a big part in ensuring your child’s success in this journey. Honestly assessing their social-emotional level of development as it relates to starting school goes a long way in getting them off on the right foot. If children could tell us, here’s what they might say: I need adults to work together to help me get ready for kindergarten, but let me be a kid. When the time comes, I will learn just fine.
    

As a parent, you are your child’s first and most important teacher. Focusing on providing them a safe, dependable, loving home will truly support their future learning. The structure of today’s schools may be a new concept to your children, however, rest assured, the child who has the opportunity to play and explore will handle this change wonderfully.

For more information, you may contact Katie Stelle-Mardis at Katie’s Kids Learning Center, 309-663-5800 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . They have two locations, 1602 Glenbridge Rd. in Bloomington and 2003
Jacobssen Dr. in Normal.


 

 

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