Books aren’t just for bedtime

Raising a reader in these times of technological gadgets is becoming more and more difficult. I am observing children who think that books are for bedtime only. They think that picking up a book at other times of the day is odd.

Ensure that your children are surrounded by books. Screen time should only be used in cases of long plane trips, long car rides (not in the city), or doctor offices. No preschooler needs an iPad or any other device. Get your child picking up a book instead of a device.

Furthermore, if the only thing you are reading is your email on your phone, then ask yourself how your child is going to enjoy books or reading? Children copy what they see. If you don’t read books, then your child is not going to read books willingly.

Why is reading books so important? It hardwires your child’s brain. Books open up a child’s imagination and enhances cognitive skills. Fine motor skills are worked on turning pages. Books build vocabulary and communication skills.

Utilize your child’s preschool and school book clubs to build an inexpensive library. Utilize our wonderful libraries. If you do all this, you will see your child pick up a book voluntarily just as often as playing with their toys. Furthermore, your child will enter kindergarten with a head start on reading and a love for books.

What Does My Child Need To Know For Kindergarten?

All parents want their child to do well in school. Too many parents think that preparing their preschoolers for kindergarten simply involves their child knowing ABC’S, numbers and colours. They couldn’t be more wrong. Here’s a checklist of skills your four year old should be able to do by the time he/she enters kindergarten. If your child does not have these skills right now, don’t panic! But it is time to get to work before September. Your child can accomplish a lot of these skills with time and pat on your part.

CHECKLIST FOR KINDERGARTEN ENTRY

1. Can your child dress her/himself independently? This includes boots, shoes and coat.
2. Can your child speak to a teacher and communicate needs?
3. Can your child attend to toileting independently?
4. Can your child listen and follow three oral instructions and carry them out with minimum assistance?
5. Can your child draw shapes? Circles, triangles, etc?
6. Can your child sit on the floor without flopping over or leaning? Why? It signals weak core muscles if they can’t sit without flopping over.
7. Can your child join in independently to play with other children?
8. Can your child hold a crayon in the “tripod” grasp or does she/he “fist” colour?
9. Can your child open/close snack bags independently? Can he/she hold utensils independently?
10. Can your child use scissors independently?
11. Can your child print her/his name or recognize letters in her/his name?
12. Does your child know her/his phone number? Address?
13. Can your child hop? Jump? Balance on one foot?

Early intervention for preschoolers

Did you know that Alberta Education provides funding for preschoolers that promote growth and development during the critical early years? This funding is provided to preschoolers attending an approved preschool and we are proud to say that Think Sun Preschool is one of the Alberta Education approved preschools. Our chosen agency is Big Plans and they have been successfully assisting our preschool students for many years.

This umbrella agency offers free services including English Language Learning, occupational therapy, speech, behavioral therapy, and physical therapy. These amazing therapists will come to your home, or use our preschool facility after school hours or between classes. In some cases, our children have received close to $20,000 in free early intervention therapy. These children then go on to kindergarten better prepared and equipped to meet the challenges of kindergarten.

Speech therapy is offered individually. Speech by the way encompasses more than pronunciation of sounds and words. If your child is extremely shy or lacks social skills, these amazing therapists, along with the preschool teachers assist and prepare these children for a kindergarten class. We have seen shy children literally transformed into confident and happy learners eager to tackle new challenges.

How do you know if your child needs assistance? You don’t until your child is screened. Some parents have been shocked when they learn that their child has deficits in, for example, fine motor skills. With a year of individual occupational therapy, most of these children are leaping into kindergarten.

There is no waiting list. Your child will have the advantage of trained therapists who will provide you and your child with first class free therapy. Take advantage of your tax dollars at work and give your children every advantage for their futures.

The catch? Your child must be registered in an approved licensed preschool such as Think Sun Preschool.

Yes, combining preschool and daycare can be tricky. But it is a ten month investment that has a lifetime reward for your child. Talk to us about logistics and ensuring that your child is able to access quality programming and therapy. We’ve dedicated 30 years to educating and preparing preschoolers for a kindergarten class.

Suggestions for ensuring that your child is ready for kindergarten

1. Allow your child to dress her/himself. It hardwires eye-hand coordination, balance and strengthens hands. Schedule enough time in morning and at pickup if your child is in daycare to accomplish this skill.
2. Allow your child to feed her/himself. Your child should be eating with a fork, and cutting with a knife at the table. Assisting with meal preparation encourages vocabulary, strengthens hands, and might even encourage healthy eating.
3. Read to your child daily. This is essential to building vocabulary and early reading skills. Turning pages strengthens fine motor skills.
4. Get outside and allow your child to run in safe open spaces. Allow them to climb. Doing so encourages confidence, strengthens gross motor skills, and strengthens hands for printing.
5. Talk to your children. Have conversations that require thoughts and more than simple yes or no answers.
6. Use wax crayons instead of felts for coloring. Felt markers do nothing to strengthen hands. Buy coloring books and encourage coloring inside the lines to strengthens eye hand coordination.
7. Don’t jump in too early to solve your child’s problems. Allow them to learn to independently problem solve. Encourage your child to do more for her/himself.
8. Play follow the leader so that your child knows what to expect when a teacher asks the children to line up.
9. If you know your child is shy, preschool programs are an excellent method of ensuring that your child won’t be overlooked in a busy kindergarten class. Experiences outside the home encourage confidence in managing different environments. Try to ensure your child is exposed to a variety of experiences prior to kindergarten.
10. If your child requires time for transitions, work on shortening that time. Teachers do not have time to wait for Junior(ess) to decide on when to start or finish required tasks.
11. Work on empathy and manners. The “treat others as you wish to be treated” works well for future years in school.
12. Ensure that you attend all orientation ps for kindergarten and maintain contact with your child’s teacher throughout their school years.

STILL WORRIED?

Preschool programs can assist you with preparing your child for kindergarten. Children learn how to function in a classroom setting and thus kindergarten is not such a big shock. If your child is attending a daycare, ensure that the daycare has an age appropriate program geared to getting four year old preschoolers ready for kindergarten. Check that the program instructional portion of class is not a mixed age group of 3-5 year olds. Three year olds are not ready to tackle the skills required for kindergarten. They should not be expected to listen, play or learn at the same level as a four year old. Nor should the older ones have to wait for a wee three to “get over” whatever the “issue of the day” these toddlers are experiencing at the time.

The Importance of Reading To your child

Did you know that your preschooler should have a vocabulary of 4,000 words prior to entering kindergarten? Did you know that Alberta preschoolers are behind in a variety of critical areas of development according to the latest statistics. One of those areas is vocabulary.

Daily Reading to your child is vital to building the foundation for acquiring vocabulary. That 15 minutes before bedtime is an excellent opportunity to connect with your child. Your child will associate reading with love and connection. Reading stories builds vocabulary and encourages conversation beyond yes and no.

Your child also needs to see you reading books. If the only thing you read is your phone screen, how are you going to encourage your child to read?

We are in an age of googling answers to every aspect of our lives. If we have a parenting concern, we turn to google. Unfortunately, while there is an infinite amount of instant answers, I liken it to a drive through approach to gathering information. We need to slow down and pick up a book. Make sure your child sees you reading that book.

Building vocabulary in preschoolers also involves conversations at meal times, in the cars, bedtimes and at every opportunity. The first five years are the most critical for developing and hard wiring a preschooler’s brain. Get your child thinking and solving problems independently. It takes time.

I know. In Calgary, time is never your friend. From the opening alarm at six to the rushing home to eat and then somehow fit in quality teaching time before bed is an impossible situation. This is where you add in your “village” to assist you.

Preschool can add that extra layer of enrichment in building vocabulary and yes reading stories. A good preschool program incorporates a variety of activities to hard wire that little brain for kindergarten. Yes, it can be a crazy time trying to get to preschool and yes a good preschool program is costly. But that ten months of crazy is an investment in your child’s future. Don’t shortchange your child. Get reading and discover the joy of books.