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Guarantee your child is prepared for school by starting at home

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By Joan Martin

Is your child ready for school?
Child assessments are revealing that the majority of Kentucky children are not ready for success in school. Statewide only 28 percent of children are ready for kindergarten without additional support. Anderson County didn’t participate in the pilot screening so no local information is available for 2012.
The Governor’s Office of Early Childhood prepared a list of 10 social and emotional development skills of children who are ready for kindergarten. Review the list and observe your child or grandchild to determine if your child has some of the attributes needed for a successful experience in school.
1. Curious and initiates learning experiences. Persists in activities and tasks.
2. Explores and tries new things. Asks questions and knows rules.
3. Learning to work well alone and also cooperate with other children.
4. Follows simple instructions and uses self-control. Can help with simple chores.
5. Participates and shows interest in creative activities. Uses a variety of materials.
6. Expresses a positive outlook. Expresses needs and wants through spoken language.
7. Cooperates and shows concern for others. Gives help to others.
8. Engages in symbolic/imaginative play with self and friends (plays house, community helper, etc.)
9. Tries new activities and asks questions.
10. Listens to adults and follows simple directions. Shows independence in self-help skills such as eating, dressing, etc.
What can you do to help your child be prepared for learning? First, recognize that what you do at home makes the biggest difference in your child’s readiness for school. Spend time with your children playing games, reading stories, doing art work, etc. Try these eight activities to increase your child’s readiness for school.
1. Read stories to children that involve feelings.
2. Draw pictures with your child, sing songs, and encourage creativity.
3. Help children work together with such activities as blocks, sand toys, etc.
4. Play games that involve give and take. Play Mother May I, Simon Says, Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, and other childhood favorites. Taking turns is a good thing to learn and video games don’t always provide that option.
5. Give children routines (such as bedtime, mealtime, and play time) and tasks (simple chores) at home. The time you spend teaching simple chores to your child will pay off later in school. We aren’t doing a favor for our children if we do all the chores. They need to learn age appropriate chores and have a few responsibilities. Sure, we could do it faster and better but that isn’t the point.
6. Encourage curiosity and answer questions. There are library books that encourage a child’s curiosity and that provide answers to questions like “Why is the sky blue?“ “Where do the colors come from in the rainbow?” etc. You already know the answers to many of these questions.
7. Be a model of respect towards others and helping children understand other’s feelings.
8. Teach children basic information such as their complete name, address, parent’s name, phone number, etc.
Enjoy your children’s curiosity. Find teachable moments. Remember that you are your child’s best teacher.    
Educational programs of Kentucky Cooperative Extension serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin. University of Kentucky, Kentucky State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Kentucky Counties, Cooperating. Disabilities accommodated with prior notification.

Joan Martin is the Anderson County Extension agent for Family and Consumer Science. She can be reached via e-mail at joan.martin@uky.edu.