August 18, 2011 at 8:42 a.m.

Preparing your child for Kindergarten begins in Preschool

Preparing your child for Kindergarten begins in Preschool
Preparing your child for Kindergarten begins in Preschool

Everywhere we look, signs remind us that school is starting soon. There are racks of notebooks and crayons, glue sticks and backpacks - it must be time! Kindergarten is often thought of as a child's introduction to school. However, many adults are surprised to learn how much more today's kindergarteners are expected to learn. Because of this, children often have an easier time in kindergarten if they have attended some form of preschool. In the Chisago Lakes School District, there are several options for families who would like their young children to have a preschool learning experience. We offer Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE), School Readiness and Little Wildcats Preschool.

The program most commonly considered "preschool" is Little Wildcats, where 3-5 year olds enjoy a classroom setting with up to 20 peers and 4 teachers. Preschool has always been known as the place where children learn to get along in a group, wait their turn, follow directions, and make friends. We now help preschoolers develop skills that will help them be successful readers and writers - through games and activities that teach letter names and sounds, rhyming, alliteration, and vocabulary. The more words a child has heard by age 5, the higher their rates of success as readers!

If your child is starting preschool this year, we have some tips for making his or her first day a positive one! First, make sure everyone in your family is saying positive things about school. Visit the school together before classes start. Try out the playground. Talk with your child about what he can expect at preschool: there will be other children his age, the teachers are there to help, she will get to play games, and reassure your child you will be back to pick him up at the end of class! A backpack is important. Letting your child choose some school supplies to bring in the backpack may be helpful, and definitely the backpack will be used for communication between school and home! Be sure your child is well rested. Preschool age children need 10-11 hours of sleep a night, so an early bedtime is important. And, of course, a good breakfast or lunch will also help your child be able to focus during class.

There are often tears on the first day of school. This is normal. The best thing for parents to do is leave the classroom as soon as goodbyes are said. Our preschool teachers are skilled at helping young children get through this separation time! You'll likely return to the classroom at the end of the day to find a happy child with many stories to tell about the fun they had in school.

As parents are a child's first and most important teachers, Chisago Lakes Schools also offer ECFE and School Readiness classes to support parents in this special role. Our School Readiness and ECFE classes are great for parents who would like to attend class with their preschool age child, and also have some time during the class period when parents meet for a discussion group, while children stay in the classroom with the preschool teachers. These parent/child classes are available for families with children anywhere between birth and age 5.

The school year begins in September! But a child's "school readiness" skills begin long before Kindergarten. We invite all families with young children to check out our early childhood classes. Watch for the Chisago Lakes Community Education catalog in your mailbox - or check out the school district website at: HYPERLINK "http://www.chisagolakes.k12.mn.us" www.chisagolakes.k12.mn.us We wish you all a wonderful new school year!

SUBMITTED BY, KAREN MANSKE

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