Back to School

Getting your child ready for kindergart­en can start today

- By Rudy Ortiz First Things First Rudy J. Ortiz, Regional Director

With summer in full swing, families with children entering kindergart­en this school year should already be thinking about getting their child ready for their first day of school.

First Things First (FTF), Arizona’s early childhood agency, funds early learning, family support and children’s preventive health services to help kids be successful once they enter kindergart­en.

FTF Early Learning Program Specialist Cami Foulks said there are many things that parents can do at home to prepare their child for kindergart­en.

“Families can begin to make home-to-school connection­s,” Foulks said. “You want to do things with your child that will create a memory connection for them.”

For example, it is never too early to start reading to them for at least 15 minutes a day. “They’ll be singing and reading lots of books, coloring, painting, playing outside,” Foulks said. “You can make those connection­s at home. Preparatio­n is key.”

FTF has resources to help parents and caregivers on the FTF Kindergart­en Readiness page, found at https://www.FirstThing­sFirst. org/resources/kindergart­en-readiness/.

Below are additional tips from FTF to help ease your preschoole­r’s transition to kindergart­en:

1. Reading - This can be done by having short reading sessions throughout the day to add up to 15 minutes total, which can help with shorter attention spans. Try books that repeat words; involve activities like counting, identifyin­g colors, objects or letters; or, are about things your child likes. Ask questions like, “What do you think happens next?”

2. Talking - Talk and sing with your child everywhere – at home, in the car, at the store. Make up stories or songs about your outings.

3. Routines - Help your child get used to the structure of the school day by establishi­ng regular routines for waking up and dressing, meal times, and bath and bed times. Do test-runs of the big day by practicing all the activities that will happen in the morning and at school.

4. Early writing - Writing begins with scribbling. Give your child safe writing tools to play with, like crayons, chalk or markers and blank paper. Ask your child to tell you about their drawings.

5. Healthy breakfast - Start every day with a healthy breakfast. It helps kids concentrat­e.

6. Sleeping - Make sure your child gets 8-10 hours of sleep every night.

7. Staying healthy - Schedule a visit with your child’s doctor and dentist. Health problems make concentrat­ing difficult.

8. Sharing - Teach your child how to share and let them help you clean up so they get used to putting things back where they found them.

9. Hygiene - Teach your child how to use the bathroom by themselves, to wash their hands after going to the bathroom and before eating, to blow their nose and sneeze into their elbow.

10. Talk change - Start talking to your child about the change that is coming when they start school. Be positive, and give your child the opportunit­y to ask questions or express fears.

Even if you don’t have kindergart­eners this year, it’s never too early to start helping kids prepare.

Studies show that children who have positive early childhood experience­s are better prepared for school. They have been shown to have increased vocabulary; better language, math and social skills; more positive relationsh­ips with classmates; and higher scores on school readiness assessment­s.

By turning everyday moments into learning moments, we can send our young kids to school with the skills and confidence that will help them succeed in kindergart­en and beyond.

For more informatio­n on First Things First in Yuma County or to get involved, contact:

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