Summer Learning Before Kindergarten

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By: Angy Talbot (School Readiness Instructor/ECFE Blog Writer)

There are so many ways you can continue summer learning for your little ones when school is no longer in session. As a preschool teacher, I am often asked what types of things can be done over the summer to prepare children for kindergarten?

Here is a list of some things you can practice over the summer to help make your child’s kindergarten experiences more successful.

Practice Letter Names and Sounds: Learn letters in fun ways by playing alphabet games, letter match games, reading books with letter names and sounds, point out letters everywhere, play ABC Bingo, make letter flashcards and have a letter search, listen to alphabet songs or play ABC puzzles.

Writing Name: Your child should know the letters in his/her name and be able to identify their name. They will need to write their name in kindergarten. Get a notebook or writing paper that they can practice printing their name with a pencil. It is helpful to guide them in the proper way to hold a pencil. They don’t have to write their name perfectly, but it should be legible.

Numbers and Counting: It’s helpful if your child can count to 10 and recognize numerals 1-10. Practice counting to 20, put written numbers in order from 1-10, and count objects. Read and sing songs with numbers and count whenever possible. Your child can count how many goldfish they have in their snack bowl or they can count the apples while putting into a bag at the grocery store.

Practice Self-Help Skills: Practice tying shoes, putting on a jacket, zipping, buttoning and bathroom needs. Give your child opportunities to do these types of activities by themselves.

Memorize Full Name, Telephone Number and Address: Children should be able to recognize their full name in print and recite their phone number and address in case of an emergency.

Chores or Household Tasks: Give your child some chores that they can help around the house with from watering plants, setting the dinner table, helping at meal time, feeding the pet, helping with wiping up messes, putting their dirty clothes in the hamper, folding laundry, picking up their room or cleaning up after themselves (putting away supplies or toys after each use).

Time With Friends: Plan play dates or take a summer preschool or ECFE class, so your child can have social experiences with other children. It gives them opportunities that will teach them how to get along with others, share, express themselves, build friendship skills, and to encourage positive interactions with other kids.

Practice Fine Motor Skills: Let your child cut with scissors or draw. Give your child opportunities to use scissors to cut out magazine pictures or written shapes. Have your child use many school tools from pencils, markers, crayons, glue sticks, to explore drawing and art materials.

Practice Physical Development Skills: Engage your child to do many large motor skills from hopping, balancing, pedaling bike/tricycle, throwing and catching a ball. Join your child in active play, especially outdoors.

Practice Eating Out Of A Lunch Box: Let your child pick out a lunch box that they would like to use for school. A few times this summer, go for a picnic and have your child use their new lunch box to practice eating from their lunch box.

Give Your Child Some Independent Space: Give your child some time to do things on their own, to play in their room by themselves, and to have some free time to let them play whatever they like without a schedule.

Talk About Strangers And Safety: Discuss with your child the concept of strangers, people they can trust, and teach body safety.

Read, Read, And Read: It’s still important to read to your child daily. A wonderful time is before bed. During story, ask your child questions about the theme, characters or predictions of the book. You can always go to the library and pick out books for story time. Also, let your child see you reading books, newspaper, or even cereal boxes. Read as much as you can out loud so your child can hear you reading.

Talk To Your Child About Kindergarten: Talk to your child about what they should expect at kindergarten. Keep it light and breezy. Share your favorite memories about your days in school. You can also drive by your child’s school pointing it out to them.

Summer is a fun time to spend with your child enjoying all the joys of the season. Summer is for playing outside, baseball games, swimming, camping, and lazy days. These months can also be used to help guide your child and give them a little head start before their first day of kindergarten.

Here are some great resources and articles to help get your child ready for kindergarten:

Preparing for Kindergarten – Scholastic/Parent and Child Magazine

http://www.scholastic.com/parents/resources/article/what-to-expect-grade/preparing-kindergarten

33 Ways to Prepare Your Child for Kindergarten

https://www.icanteachmychild.com/33-ways-to-prepare-your-child-for-kindergarten/

How Can I Prepare My Child For Kindergarten?

https://www.babycenter.com/0_how-can-i-prepare-my-child-for-kindergarten_67245.bc

Kindergarten Readiness: Help Your Child Prepare – Mayo Clinic

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/childrens-health/in-depth/kindergarten-readiness/art-20048432

How to Talk to Your Child About Interacting With Strangers

https://www.babycenter.com/0_how-to-talk-to-your-child-about-interacting-with-strangers_3657124.bc

What to Teach Your Kids About Strangers

http://www.ncpc.org/topics/violent-crime-and-personal-safety/strangers

Stranger Safety

http://www.parents.com/kids/safety/stranger-safety/

Helping Your Child Through Separation Anxiety

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By: Angy Talbot (ECFE Blog Writer/School Readiness Instructor)

When my daughter first started daycare as a toddler she suffered with separation anxiety. I remember each day dropping her off and she would cry and look at me with bewildered eyes. As soon as we got into the car each morning, the lower lip would drop and I could see the anxiety in her face as we drove to child- care. I dreaded each morning because I knew she would be sad when I left and sometimes would cry or pull on my leg; it broke my heart! This went on for over a month. Finally, my daughter made a new friend and looked forward to playing with her. She also started to have fun making art projects, playing on the playground and being with other children her age at daycare. We finally came to the day when I would drop her off, give her a hug, walk to the door and say good-bye without tears (from either of us). I remember how hopeless I felt until we came up with some strategies for her separation anxiety with her teacher that truly helped. One thing I also learned was that it helped to have a “Good-bye Routine” that was expected each day, which made it much easier for us both to separate. I must admit, it was hard for me to say good-bye too, but when she saw my happy face and enthusiasm at each drop-off, she began to smile as well!

Separation Anxiety in young children is a normal stage of development. One thing to keep in mind is that separation anxiety is also a good sign that healthy attachment has been developed between child and caregiver. It is important for children to realize that even when their parent separates from them, that they will return. Separation is a great time to develop coping strategies and independence.

Listed below are a few tips that can help you and your child at times of separations (especially the first day of school):

  • Role-play with your child what will happen at drop off time. Practice pretending to walk to the door, give each other a hug and wave good-bye. Make a good-bye routine and practice it with your child. Then when you need to separate, follow the same routine you practiced together. End with a special ritual whether it is a giving a high-five or hug, before you exit (never sneak away).
  • Practice separating from your child by having a caregiver watch your child for a few hours or plan a play date.
  • Read stories to your child about school and separation from parents. My daughter’s favorite book was, I Love You All Day Long by Francesca Rusackas

Other Helpful Books:

What to Expect at Preschool (What to Expect Kids) by Heidi Murkoff

Preschool Day Hooray! by Linda Leopold Strauss

Maisy Goes to Preschool: A Maisy First Experience by Lucy Cousins

Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney

  • Make good-byes short and sweet. It never helps your child if you linger. Even if they begin to cry, do your last good-bye ritual, smile and tell your child you’ll be back, and head out the door. Always keep a brave face, and if you need to cry do it when you’re out of sight of your child (I did this for months!). Keep in mind, your child is fine and there are teachers and other children that are with him/her.
  • Make sure to get up a little extra early the morning of the first day, so no one feels rushed!  The mornings we are not rushed tends to make for a better drop off.
  • Make sure that your child is getting enough sleep and is going to bed at the same time each night.
  • Take pictures of the school, classroom, teachers, and make a little book just for your child.
  • Learn the teachers’ names and something about them to tell your child.
  • Drive by the school/daycare and point out, “There’s your new school!”
  • Meet the teachers and have a tour of the classroom before school starts (often schools will have an Open House). Show your child where you will be dropping off and where you will be saying good-bye. Let your child explore their new room making sure they know where their belongings go and where the bathroom is.
  • Have conversations about the kinds of things they will do at preschool or daycare (playing on the playground, playing with new friends, doing art projects, playing with blocks, etc.) and ask your child if they have any questions about school/childcare.
  • Go Shopping for school supplies with your child. Let them pick out their own backpack or folders. Make it a fun excursion just to get ready for school
  • The night before the big day, have all items laid out with their outfit and all school supplies needed. Let your child help too. They’ll enjoy picking out what they would like to wear.
  • Putting comfort items in your child’s backpack will help if they start to feel homesick. If it is a necklace they can wear, a picture of their family taped in their folder, or a special teddy bear can help children feel less anxious.
  • Don’t forget to celebrate with your child at pick-up time! Tell your child how proud you are of them!

It will generally take a few weeks before your child fully adjusts to a new school or childcare. Keep your morning routine consistent and your good-byes short, and your child will ultimately separate without tears or struggle and this will also build your child’s confidence.

Listed below are some other websites for more strategies on separation anxiety for young children:

http://www.brighthorizons.com/family-resources/e-family-news/2013-tips-for-reducing-separation-anxiety-in-young-children/

http://www.parents.com/toddlers-preschoolers/starting-preschool/separation-anxiety/dealing-with-separation-anxiety/

http://moms.popsugar.com/5-Tips-Easing-Your-Baby-Separation-Anxiety-27330657

http://www.ounceofprevention.org/ready-to-learn/separation-anxiety-in-children.php

http://www.ahaparenting.com/ages-stages/toddlers/helping-your-toddler-with-separation-anxiety

Expression Through Art

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By: Angy Talbot, ECFE Blog Writer

Art is more than something exquisite or interesting; art can be an expression of someone’s soul.  Art can tell a story, make you feel, and keep you guessing.  There are many ways an artist can express themselves through painting, sculpture, drawing, collage, and art can be produced from any media imaginable.  There are many types of art and numerous ways that one could present an art piece.  When you paint a picture, you need to decide the type of paint you will use, the type of material you will be painting on, and the images you would like to paint.  There are many different elements that one can express through their art.  Many people, who do not consider themselves artists, would even be surprised at what they are capable of producing.  It is about the experimentation and enjoyment of the process while making something with your own hands.

Children enjoy participating in art activities.  Children can express what they may not be able to say in words sometimes through the use of a painting or drawing.  Art gives children the ability and the chance for them to produce their own creations.  Art is different than crafts.  “Art is open-ended with no specific end-product in mind; children are allowed to use materials in any way they choose” (NAEYC).  In the Discovery Classrooms, children are given the opportunity to use art materials how they wish from watercolors, paints, crayons, glue, scissors, play-dough, stamps, collage, clay, constructing, just to name a few items used.  The child doesn’t copy what the adult has made, but creates what they desire.  The process that a child goes through in creating art is more important than the end artifact.  By giving children many different ways to express themselves, this will help unlock their hidden talents or help the little artist to explore.  Children need to be given the opportunity to discover through various art materials.  Art is not about all children making one particular project.  Art is about self-expression, creativity, imagination, critical thinking, and problem solving.  Art is a beautiful way to express ideas, thoughts, and feelings.

As stated from, The Creative Curriculum for Preschool in the chapter titled, ArtLetter To Families:

Art is an important part of our curriculum.  Every day, children find a variety of art materials available on our shelves.  Drawing, painting, pasting, molding, and constructing are not only enjoyable but also provide important opportunities for learning.  Children express their ideas and feelings, improve their coordination, learn to recognize colors and textures, and develop creativity and pride in their accomplishments by exploring and using art materials.

When children are engaged in art activities, we talk with them about what they are doing and ask questions that encourage them to think about their ideas and express feelings.

We are just as interested in the creative process as we are in what children make.

What are some ways you incorporate art with your child?

Here are some other resources on art:

The Creative Arts Curriculum

http://www.naeyc.org/yc/pastissues/2004/july

Art vs. Crafts

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/u/MaryAnn-Kohl-Arts-Crafts/379002813/

Preschool Process And Product Art Defined

http://suite101.com/article/process-and-product-art-for-preschoolers-a122456

Kindergarten Experiences

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By: Angy Talbot – School Readiness Teacher/ECFE Blog Writerimages-2

I remember my very first day of Kindergarten.  On this day, my Mom walked me to the front door of a big building, the school that I could look down the road and see from my home.  As I said good-bye outside the front doors, my mother recalls that I did not cry, but smiled, waved, and took my bag and headed inside.  I remember making that long journey to the Kindergarten room.  Today, I can still recall the sights, sounds, and scents of my elementary school.  The lights so bright, the voices of children coming from every direction, and the smell of tempera paint, that I would have an opportunity to use on the easel (which became my favorite activity despite my lack of talent).   On that first day, my parents made sure I was prepared.  I could recite my ABC’s, count to 10, and buckle my shoes without assistance.   I remember feeling confident and excited on that day.  I also remember the feeling in my stomach that I could not explain, a knot that wouldn’t go away.  Looking back at pictures I can still recall sitting in a circle with my legs crossed and my hands in my lap, listening to a story.  There were lots of art activities from various paints, big thick crayons, and clay modeling.  But what I remember most was playing.  Playing in the kitchen pretending to make dinner and putting my dolls to bed.  Making friendships that lasted beyond grade school and trusting and caring about another adult, other than my parents.  I will never forget Kindergarten and my first teacher, Mrs. E.  She taught me that learning was fun and how to be a good friend.

I remember the experience of bringing my child to Kindergarten for the first time.  On this day, that very same feeling in my stomach reappeared, that knot that wouldn’t go away.  In fact, I was more nervous than she was.  I feel she was prepared for this day.  She went to preschool and was in Ms. Tiffany’s Discovery Learning School Readiness classroom.  In preschool, she learned how to interact with others, follow routines and rules, how to write her name, hang from the monkey bars, put on her snow pants and mittens by herself, how to count to 10 and recognize each numeral, and all the letters of the alphabet.    In her preschool experience, she grew so much in every area of development from social emotional to cognitive.  At home, we read to her each night before bed.  We began to sound out letters and she began to phonetically read.  We took time to practice skills like rhyming in natural settings, such as driving in the car or waiting our turn at the dentist office.   We would practice counting in the grocery store where she would count out 5 apples to put in the bag.    I felt secure that she had a great foundation and was ready to experience life in the outside world.  That day, my daughter, my baby, didn’t cry.  She gave hugs, smiled, walked to her new teacher, and waved good-bye.  When I left the building, I cried.  She did it!  She was able to face this new experience with confidence and elation.    That is what I want for every child that enters my school readiness classroom.  I want to give them every opportunity to grow, learn, and become independent.    My Kindergarten experiences help me to better understand the joys, concerns, and fears, of each child and family.  I am asked often, “What does my child need to know before kindergarten?”  Here is a kindergarten checklist from Family Education written by Peggy Gisler, Ed.S. and Marge Eberts, Ed.S.

·  Listen to stories without interrupting

·  Recognize rhyming sounds

·  Pay attention for short periods of time to adult-directed tasks

·  Understand actions have both causes and effects

·  Show understanding of general times of day

·  Cut with scissors

·  Trace basic shapes

·  Begin to share with others

·  Start to follow rules

·  Be able to recognize authority

·  Manage bathroom needs

·  Button shirts, pants, coats, and zip up zippers

·  Begin to control oneself

·  Separate from parents without being upset

·  Speak understandably

·  Talk in complete sentences of five to six words

·  Look at pictures and then tell stories

·  Identify rhyming words

·  Identify the beginning sound of some words

·  Identify some alphabet letters

·  Recognize some common sight words like “stop”

·  Sort similar objects by color, size, and shape

·  Recognize groups of one, two, three, four, and five objects

·  Count to ten

·  Bounce a ball

Read more on FamilyEducation: http://school.familyeducation.com/kindergarten/school-readiness/38491.html#ixzz1F4migrDn

Also, you can go to Elk River Area School District ready for kindergarten checklist at:  http://www.elkriver.k12.mn.us/schools.cfm?subpage=31533

Hands-On Math for Preschoolers

By: Ms. Angy, ECFE Blog Writer

preschooler and mathThree years ago our Discovery Preschool Programs adopted a new math curriculum called, Real Math – Building Blocks.  Real Math is, “the first program to fully integrate all five strands of mathematical proficiency as defined by today’s research.”  The five key proficiencies that students need to achieve math stated by the Real Math curriculum are:

  1. Understanding: Comprehending mathematical concepts, operations, and relations – knowing what mathematical symbols, diagrams, and procedures mean.
  2. Computing: Carrying out mathematical procedures, such as adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing numbers flexibly, accurately, efficiently, and appropriately.
  3. Applying: Being able to formulate problems mathematically and devise strategies for solving them using concepts and procedures appropriately.
  4. Reasoning: Using logic to explain and justify a solution to a problem or to extend from something known to something not yet known.
  5. Engaging: Seeing mathematics as sensible, useful, and doable.

The Real Math curriculum combines skill-building and problem-solving instruction that includes technology.  Each child is given access to mathematical games, which can be found on the real math website.  Since the children login to their own account, each child’s successes and progress can be monitored.  This technology resource helps take the classroom to the next level while giving parent’s a great alterative for their child’s computer use at home.  Every Discovery classroom has a computer available for the children to use during class time.  The children greatly enjoy playing these different math games on the computer, which has provided a variation to learning diverse math skills.  “Technology opens the door to mathematical understanding and application that will prepare students for the real world.”

Each day children engage in whole group math activities, small group math activities, and hands on learning in the math center.  Each week the children learn and practice a math concept from counting, learning about shapes, measuring, patterns, number recognition, sorting, classifying, adding and subtracting small numbers, and much, much more!  Overall, the children are learning through hands on activities and teacher directed instruction, while children’s progress is monitored.

As a preschool teacher, I have enjoyed using this math curriculum.  This program offers support and training for teachers.  The lessons are very thorough, nicely prepared, and can be easily implemented into any classroom setting.  I feel it is very important for children at a young age to develop and understand numerous math skills.  The children are often applying and learning math concepts without even realizing it.  The activities are engaging and very age appropriate.  I want children to feel confident in math and think of it as fun!  “Quality mathematics is a joy, not a pressure.  It emerges from children’s play, their curiosity, and their natural ability to think.”  For more information on the Real Math curriculum please go to:

www.realmath.com

How do you apply math concepts at home?

D.I.Y. For Kids

towelBy Ms. Angy, ECFE Blog Writer

Quite often parents will ask me what they can do at home to help prepare their child for school.  One suggestion I always mention is to have their child begin to help out at home and do more things on their own.  At home, children can start by cleaning up after themselves.  If they take something out, they can put it away right after they are done using it.  I know as a parent and teacher, I have found myself often putting away items I never used myself.  Even if it is easier for you to pick up the mess, it is better for children to learn this responsibility.  Children can also help out with many household chores.  Some suggestions are:

  • Folding small washcloths and towels when doing laundry.
  • Helping with setting the table for meals.
  • Helping with making their beds.
  • Cleaning up their place setting after a meal.
  • Helping with pets such as feeding them.
  • Getting a child-size broom or shovel so they can help with sweeping and shoveling.
  • Pour their own water for drinking while using child-size pitchers and cups.
  • Helping with putting away groceries or dishes.
  • Washing dishes (it is fun to wash by hand from time-to-time even though you may have a dishwasher and children will better understand the concept of how things get from dirty to clean).

Not only is it valuable to show children how to take care of their environment, it is equally as important to inform children as to how they can take care of themselves.  Taking care of themselves not only will help them to achieve independence, but helps to develop self-confidence and pride.  It is helpful for children to practice getting ready in the morning from getting dressed, helping to pick out their own clothes, and brushing their hair and teeth.  They may still need some assistance from an adult, but giving them the opportunities to practice and try it on their own will help them to become self-sufficient.

Some basic self-help skills are:

  • Carrying their backpack/book bag to school.
  • Washing their hands before meals or after using the bathroom.
  • Wiping their nose and washing their hands after.
  • Practicing with putting on their winter outdoor gear from snow pants, boots, to jackets.
  • Practicing with buttons and zippers.
  • Putting on their shoes and clothes.
  • Taking care of their own personal hygiene needs from combing their hair to washing their face.

I read a quote once that I often refer to as a teacher and mother, “Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed” by Dr. Maria Montessori.  The key is showing children age-appropriate responsibilities for the environment and themselves by introducing new skills as they develop.  A great resource is an article titled, Teaching Your Child to Become Independent with Daily Routines, gives many suggestions and helpful tools in self-help skills for children.  You can download it at:

csefel.vanderbilt.edu/documents/teaching_routines.pdf.

What are some things you do at home to encourage your child’s independence?

 

RTI for Kindergarten Readiness-Helping Children Early in the Classroom

rti_pyramidBy: Ms. Angy, ECFE Blog Writer/Discovery Learning Teacher

RTI stands for Response to Intervention and is used to reach the needs of all children by providing early instructional interventions.  In Discovery Learning, when children need extra support the teaching team (lead teacher, ECSE teacher, MRC Representative and Classroom Assistant) in the classroom works together with the child in more explicit and purposeful teaching.  One way we administer our interventions is to begin with individual assessments.  By assessing children quarterly and when needed, we’re able to keep track of children’s progress and see areas of need and growth.  One example is in our literacy assessments.  Children are tested or bench marked on letter names, letter sounds, alliteration, rhyming, and picture naming in the fall, winter, and spring.  With the help of the Minnesota Reading Corps, children are progress monitored throughout the school year.  After the very first assessment in the fall, children who need some extra help will begin working with the classroom teacher or MRC representative to provide extra literacy support in small groups or one-on-one.  After each literacy goal is achieved, a new goal is implemented until the child is at benchmark in each area of literacy.

Another form of RTI in the Discovery Learning classrooms is the Response to Intervention and the Pyramid Model.  “The Pyramid Model provides a tiered intervention framework of evidence-based interventions for promoting the social, emotional, and behavioral development of young children” (Fox et al., 2003; Hemmeter, Ostrosky, & Fox, 2006).  The model describes three tiers of intervention practice:

  • Tier 1:  universal promotion for all children
  • Tier 2:  secondary preventions to address the intervention needs for children at risk of social emotional delays
  • Tier 3:  tertiary interventions needed for children with persistent challenges

One of the great advantages of working with RTI in our ECFE/SR program is the resources that are available to us.  With the Pyramid Model (formally TACSEI) and High Five (ISD 728) a team is available to guide the staff and families in RTI interventions from behavior specialists, parent educators, coaches, and a school psychologist.

This is just the tip of the iceberg in a description of RTI in our Discovery Classrooms.  There is so much being done daily in our environments for the achievement of every child’s academic and social-emotional success.  With the implementation of RTI:  early identification of children’s challenges is recognized, student’s are provided with instructional support, and children’s progress is monitored and assessed regularly.  I hope it is reassuring to know that our program will do what is needed to ensure that every child will be successful and prepared for kindergarten.

For more information on RTI go to the Center for RTI in Early Childhood website at: www.crtiec.org   To find information on Tier 2 and Tier 3 social emotional/behavior interventions, go to the Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning at http://csefel.vanderbilt.edu/ and for information on the Minnesota Reading Corps go to: www.minnesotareadingcorps.org

What are your thoughts on RTI interventions in preschool?