Going to kindergarten will be a huge transition for a lot of Pre-K children. The school building will be new, the hours may be longer, and class work will become more rigorous. Make this milestone an easier one with these four tips from Eleanor Toliver, founder of First Ward Child Development Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Prepare as a family
Getting ready for kindergarten isn’t just your child’s task, it’s also your job as parents. “One in 10 children fail kindergarten because they miss too many days,” says the Charlotte preschool veteran of 26 years. “They don’t realize how important it is that a child gets enough sleep, for example. We have children who fall asleep here. You need to get your child to bed on time.” First Ward Child Development Center offers Pre-K parents workshops to prepare families for kindergarten. There, they inform parents that they are required to participate five times in school activities and read 120 books by the end of the year. “A lot of it is educating the parents,” she adds. “This is just the first of many graduations for their children.”
Participate in school events
Parental involvement in the school is just as important as kindergarten workshops. Volunteer in the classroom. Participate in classroom activities when asked, says Toliver, who is also a Charlotte day care expert. At the beginning of the year, First Ward Child Development Center asks parents to send in information about their families as well as come into the classroom to share their expertise and cultures with the children.
Keep skills up
Whatever skills your child acquires throughout their time in nursery and preschool allows them to keep those abilities sharp when school is not is session. “Work on colors, numbers and shapes so they don’t lose things over the summer,” says the Charlotte child care specialist. “We also teach them how to recognize their names and the alphabet, how to follow directions, and how to act in social situations.”
Make sure curriculum fits the child
By the time your child is four, you and the pros will have a better idea of what kind of learner your child is. Work with your teachers and the program’s administration to ensure that the kindergarten program your family selects is the right fit for your child. Tour elementary schools. Research magnet or alternative options. “One of the biggest mistakes I made was I put my son in a traditional school,” recalls Toliver, who started the Charlotte child care business in 1999. “He was a very artistic child. He would have been better off at a Montessori or art school. So learn about your child and try to get the right match.”
Eleanor Toliver is the founder of
First Ward Child Development Center
600 East 7th Street Charlotte, NC 28202