The ABC’s of School Readiness

At the start of a new school year, it’s natural for parents to feel anxious about sending their child off to kindergarten. You want to make sure that your preschooler is completely ready for their first-ever experience in a classroom. But what does school readiness really mean for a child? School readiness is much more than just learning a set of facts and skills. Getting children ready for school is a process that starts as soon as the child is born. It requires you to spend time reading, talking, and playing with your child.

Here are some tips to help you prepare your child for kindergarten.

Read aloud to your child– Take visits to the library. Check out books, attend a storytime, and be sure to read to them every day. Point to pictures in a book and say the words together. Make reading fun and perhaps create different character voices to make it interesting for your child.

Engage your child in language and literacy activities– Encourage your preschooler to write their name. Let a toddler scribble, draw, and write. Sing nursery rhymes and do fingerplay to stimulate their understanding and use of language. Appreciate their attempts and watch their skills develop with practice. Praise them for trying new things.

Develop and follow routines– Daily routines such as cleaning up after play, taking baths, packing their own bag for an outing offer rich opportunities to support your child’s learning and development. Have regular routines for mealtime and bedtime. Furthermore, getting up around the same time every day will get them used to a school schedule and prevent lack of sleep that can lead to behavioral issues.

Teach them independence– Children feel a great sense of pride when they are able to complete self-care tasks such as dressing themselves, tying their shoes, and using the bathroom without assistance. Let your child do simple chores like setting the table at mealtimes.

Nurture social and emotional learning– The ability to get along with other children, follow directions, and say “goodbye” to parents are skills that are essential for success in school and overall child development. Young children learn these skills through interactions with parents, teachers, and friends. Don’t forget to hug and kiss your child several times a day.

Enhance their thinking skills– In their every day experiences, children use and develop an understanding of math concepts, such as counting, sorting, and problem-solving skills that they will need for school. Give your child puzzles, blocks, and board games. Even better, get on the floor and play with them. Take your child to the zoo, grocery store, and post office. Talk to them about all the animals they saw at the zoo and what sounds they make. Make a list of all the items you want to buy at the grocery store—counting them as you place them in your basket. You can also point out the numbers and wording on the aisle signage by pointing up and saying “Let’s look for aisle 4, we need to find juice”. On the ride home, talk about the colors of the trees, the sky, and cars.

Play, play, and more play- Play is the centerpiece of learning. High-quality play experiences help improve children’s memory, language abilities, and social-emotional skills. Children learn by playing with every day objects and by pretending. The most effective ways for kids to learn about the physical and social world are by testing out new materials, playing with sand, water, and mixing bowls while engaging themselves in pretend play. Encourage your child to use their imagination.

Because kindergarten has more structure, it’s important to prepare your little one for the new environment. The best way to prepare is to talk about it. Before school starts, talk to them about what things will be like at school, how they’ll meet new people, learn new things, and make new friends. Visit the school and walk your new kinder down the halls and to their classroom. Encouraging your child to talk about how they feel is important, and how they should feel comfortable expressing their feelings to their new friend, their teacher. This is definitely a milestone to celebrate, even though your baby is growing up.

 

 

 

 

Raise a Reader with ‘The Berkeley Baby Book Project’

What could the amazing City of Berkeley have in common with the vibrant music legend Dolly Parton? They both love giving books to young children. And so does BANANAS! Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has teamed up with The Berkeley Baby Book Project to distribute free books to kids in Berkeley, ages 0-5. BANANAS is proud to help spread the word about this wonderful program.

Calling it the “gift of literacy,” Dolly Parton began the Imagination Library in 1995 in her home state of Tennessee. Since then, the program has expanded to other states and recently it distributed its 100 millionth book. The milestone was celebrated in the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. where Dolly Parton read books to a group of children.

The benefits of reading early to children are huge. It is never too early to build that close connection with your infant, toddler, or preschooler while stimulating their brains and love for learning. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library helps make this possible with its 60 volume sets of books that include classics such as The Little Engine That Could, Last Stop on Market StreetHooray a Pinata, and many more.

To be a part of this program, a child needs to register for The Berkeley Baby Book Project. Each month, new books are mailed to the child’s home. Books are chosen based on each child’s age and will be sent until the child turns five or the family moves out of Berkeley. The books are a gift and there is no cost to families for being a part of the Imagination Library. Children get the opportunity to create an amazing personal library before they enter Kindergarten.

BANANAS is cultivating the importance of reading in a child’s early development by helping families register for the Berkeley Baby Book Project. Berkeley parents can register in-person or contact our referral line at 510-658-0381. Families are also welcome to pick up gently used children’s books from our Boutique. These books are accepted through generous donations from our community.

Share the wonderful world of books with your children and promote the importance of literacy. For more information on The Berkeley Baby Book Project, visit their website.