The events in the early years of a child’s life form the foundation for later physical, social & emotional, language, and cognitive development. Young children grow and mature at different rates and they learn skills at different paces. Practicing readiness activities at home and at school will support the whole child.
In the sections below, you will find suggestions and home activities, which will reinforce the skills necessary to be successful in the classroom. These section focus on: motor development, physical development, social and emotional development, language development, and cognitive development.Motor DevelopmentMotor Skills are actions that involve the muscles.Gross motor skills involve Large muscle movement and fine motor skills involve small muscle movement.Large Muscle MovementHelp your child develop gross motor skills by playing outdoor activities in wide-open spaces. Make time for your child to run, climb, balance, hop, throw, and kick. Visit the park or the neighborhood school to run and playClimb up the playground equipment and go down the slide.Play hopscotch and jump rope activities to improve balance.Play catch with big and small balls. Use balloons and rackets to hit back and forth to each other.Kick a ball back and forth. Make obstacle courses to kick the ball through.Play basketball, softball, and soccer togetherSmall Muscle MovementHelp your child develop fine motor skills by providing opportunity for him or her to practice using small controlled movements with his or her hands and fingers.Create a special toolbox with a fat pencil, crayons, markers, scissors, and a glue stick.Draw pictures with your child. Show them how to make objects step by step (directed draw). Add detail to the pictures you draw together, color togetherDraw shapes and make curve and zigzag lines on paper for your child to practice cutting.Use playdough to form letters and numbers. Cut playdough to increase hand strength.Practice writing. Trace letters, numbers, name, shapes and practice independently.Physical DevelopmentPhysical Development involves making healthy choices. Proper nutrition, exercise, and health care are all important to factors that support the physical development of a child.NutritionTwo servings of vegetables (broccoli, squash, carrots) each day.Two servings of fruits (apples, bananas, oranges).Four servings of grains (rice, oatmeal, pasta) everyday.Two servings of protein or meat (fish, chicken, beans, nuts) everyday.Two servings of dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt) each day.Portion control is important. A serving size is considered to be the size of the child’s fist.Limit the intake of sweets and fast food.Eat meals together regularly and share about the events of the day.ExerciseExercise will help maintain a healthy weight, keep physically healthy, and improve gross motor skills discussed earlier.Limit the amount of time your child watches television.Set up play dates for your child to run and play with other children.Go to the park.Take hikes together.See motor skills link.Wellness Checks and Illness PreventionIt is important for your child to receive regular checkups at both the doctor’s office and the dentist office. The number one reason children miss school is due to illness or tooth decay.Make and keep wellness checkups with the doctor.Make regular dental checkups.Help your child brush and floss their teeth at least two times a day.Teach your child about proper hygiene.Wash hands often throughout the day.If you do not have health insurance contact the agency First 5. They are committed to getting every child health insurance including: medical, dental, and vision under their Healthy Kids Program. Call toll free (866) 850-4321.Social and Emotional DevelopmentSocial and emotional competence is an important domain of school readiness. In school, children are expected to share, take turns, and respect the rights of others. Children are also expected to accept responsibility by following directions, demonstrate self control, and problem solve appropriately.Social DevelopmentChildren learn social skills through interaction. Provide as much opportunity for you child to interact with you and play with same age peers.Schedule play dates for your child weekly.Be an active participant in the play date by role modeling sharing and turn taking skills.Practice asking, “Can I play with that when you are finished?” or “Can we play with that together?"Help your child understand that everyone has feelings. Also, that is important to respect (show that you care) other people’s property and their rights.Encourage and model self-help skills: cleaning up toys, going to the bathroom independently, zipping and buttoning his or her own clothing.Talk to your child about waiting patiently and explain times that this is necessary: When you are on the phone, two adults are talking, waiting for a turn for somethingor waiting in line.Emotional DevelopmentChildren learn to deal with their feelings by watching the adults and child care providers around them. Role modeling appropriate and positive behaviors will allow the child to acquire necessary skills to interact with peers and teachers.Teach children the difference between feelings and actions. It is okay to feel: happy, sad, or mad. How we handle or the actions we take with feelings can beappropriate or inappropriate.Model how to solve problems appropriately by using words: “That makes me mad when…., I don’t like that and I want you to stop…, Please can I play with thatwhen you are done….,”Encourage your child to take responsibility for actions by praising frequently when they have done what you asked, played well others, or used their words to solveproblems.Always stay calm when your child is having behavior issues. Remember, they will match your emotion. Think to yourself, what do I want them to do and how canI teach them to do it. After an incident, always role model appropriate words for the child to say they are sorry and how they will solve their problemappropriately the next time.Teach your child about manners. When to say please and thank you. How to interrupt politely by saying excuse me, and then wait for a response.Language DevelopmentLanguage development takes place through social interaction.Listening SkillsRead different types of books with your child. See the Bibliography page for suggested stories.Before you begin to read: look at the cover, name the author and illustrator, and tell what his or her job is. Predict what the story might be about.During the story: name the characters (who is in the story), discuss the setting (where the story takes place) and how the setting can change.Read different versions of the same story.Have your child retell the stories you read together in their own words.When your child talks to you demonstrate active listening skills by making eye contact and responding to what he or she says.Practice listening skills by giving them simple two-step directions, the child repeats the direction, and completes the task.Speaking SkillsTalk, talk, and talk to your child. Speak in complete sentences and expect your child to do the same thing.Sing songs together.Memorize and recite nursery rhymes together.Pretend Play with your child: play school, pretend to be at a restaurant and order from the menu, act out the stories you read together, use puppets to make upadventures of your own.Tell your child about you. What kinds of things you did when you were his or her age. Your favorite food, color, birthday present.Laugh and enjoy your time together. Encourage your child to tell you about their favorite things.Vocabulary DevelopmentThese listening and speaking activities will improve and increase your child’s vocabulary:Describe common objectIdentify and sort objects into category and explain how objects are alike and different.Discuss words and how some words can have the same meaning: trash and garbage, vehicle and car, light and lamp.When reading stories together, pick out two to three words to discuss in more detail.Explain what a dictionary is and look up words together.Tag on to the child’s words by adding descriptive words. If the child says: I have a ball. The parent can say: Yes, you have a big, red, round ball.Cognitive DevelopmentThree key factors that support cognitive development for kindergarten readiness are language development, early literacy skills, and early math skills. Literacy is embedded into oral language development. Key indicators supporting literacy and learning to read include phonological or phonemic awareness, print concepts, and knowledge of letter names.Phonological or Phonemic Awareness (PA)Parents often confuse phonological awareness or phonemic awareness with phonics. Phonics attaches the letter symbol to the sound. Phonemic awareness is all aural language play, without the letters attach to it. There are six subtests or skills kindergarten students are expected to master. The three phonemic awareness skills important for the first trimester of kindergarten are rhyming words, Alliteration (beginning sounds), and print concepts.RhymeRead nursery rhymesRead rhyming books enunciating the rhyming words, you can also stop and let the child fill in the rhyming words.Name rhyming and non-rhyming words and have your child give you a thumbs up it they rhyme or a thumbs down if they do not rhyme.In the car, play the rhyming game. You say a word and your child has to rhyme it.Alliteration (beginning sounds)Cut out pictures from magazine, name the pictures emphasizing the beginning sound. Have your child match the pictures that begin the same way.Name two words, if the words begin the same way, your child, gives a thumbs up and if they do not begin the same way, your child gives a thumbs down.In the car, play the beginning sound game. You say a word and your child names another word that begins that way.Print ConceptsIt is important for children to become familiar with print. They should know the cover of a book, where to start reading, that the printed word goes from left to right, top to bottom, know the difference between a letter and a word, and understand that the printed word gives information.The language development activities in the previous link will also support understanding print concepts.While reading stories, point to each word (track) as you read it. Talk about the space between words which tells the reader when one word ends and the new wordbegins.Talk about the punctuation. Discuss that we always begin sentences with a capital letter and end sentences with a period.Explain that a period is a small dot and its job is to tell the reader to stop or pause in the reading before going on to the next sentence.Demonstrate to the child with a familiar book what it would sound like to read the book without paying attention to the punctuation.Have child point to a word in the sentence. Ask him to count how many letters are in the word.Pick a sentence from the book and count the number of words in the sentence.Letter NamesIt is important for children to begin to recognize and name the letters of the alphabet. Remember to make learning fun and appropriate. Do not sit down and drill with flashcards. Use the environment naturally.Begin with naming and writing the letters in his or her name.Read alphabet books and name the letters. Sing the alphabet song.In the grocery store, have your child help you shop and name the letters on the packages of food you buy.Buy shaving cream and practice writing the letters with the shaving cream smoothed out on a tabletop.Purchase sponge letters at the Dollar Tree and put them in a bucket of water or the bathtub to fish for with tongs. The letter your child can name he or she keeps andthe ones they need more practice with get thrown back to catch again.Play letter bingo.If you have access to the internet, go to the websites on links below.If you do not have access to the Internet, visit your local library for free Internet access.Put magnetic letters on the refrigerator, while you are cooking name letters for your child to find.Do the opposite, have your child choose letters and tell you the name of the letter while you cook.
Math Key components needed for math readiness include numbers recognition, counting, counting objects and naming shapes. Eagerness to learn and explore is another important component to math readiness skills. For the first trimester, practice number sense to 10 and identifying six basic shapes.NumbersPractice rote counting to 20.Practice sliding and counting objects to 20 (1 to 1 correspondence).Count different types of objects in the house: doors, windows, rooms, or lamps.Talk about more and less: Is there more windows in the house than doors.Brainstorm all the way we use numbers: counting, calendar, phone number, and address.Recognize numbers 0-20.ShapesName 2-D and 3-D shapes.Look for them in the environment: doors, windows, microwave, refrigerator, etc..Describe how they are different.Draw the shapes.Make pictures using the shapes.