Setting your child up for success in Pre-K
May 30, 2018 | By Stephanie McGhee
As the preschool landscape changes in Denver, families are beginning to think about pre-k options earlier and earlier... Many families may even find themselves thinking about preschool options before their little one is even born!
As a pre-kindergarten teacher at Rocky Mountain Prep Fletcher, I have many conversations with families about what they can be doing to help ease their child into what for many may be their first formal school experience.
Whether you are planning for your student to start pre-k this fall or have several years to go, there are many simple ways you can help your child feel ready and excited for this transition into school:
1. Capitalize on your child’s natural curiosity.
It’s a cliche you’ve likely heard many times before: Kids are like sponges! The truth is that, particularly as children are in the 3- to 5-year-old age range, there are millions of neurons firing in your child’s brain as they grow and develop. This physical growth means that they are making so many natural connections in their lives. Support this by talking to them about what they see, hear, taste, touch… These conversations will allow their brains to continue to grow.
2. Bring literacy to life with text and visuals.
I often hear from family and friends that their kids “know the ABCs,” when what they really mean is they know the alphabet song. That is wonderful and I can’t encourage families enough to sing with their children. The follow-up question I always ask if they know the symbols. At this age, kids are incredible at memorizing songs, particularly catchy ones, and you can help them along with their learning by incorporating text and/or visuals into any literacy practice.
The good news is there are a variety of easy ways to do this! When you sign something like the alphabet, point to letters on blocks or watch a fun alphabet video together. If you are singing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” incorporate a puppet to help sing with the child and encourage them to do hand gestures, too.
3. Count everything.
There are limitless numbers of opportunities to count objects with your child! Need six bananas at the grocery store? Count them as you load them into the cart. Out on a walk? Count the number of dogs you pass! Students feel so much pride when they come into my pre-k classroom and can already count to a certain number. This pride will help them feel comfortable trying new things in the classroom and help them foster their sense of adventure.
Find opportunities to do this in a way that does not feel forced - if you are insisting that you and your child sit down and count every day, they will tire of it and so will you. Children at this age are also very perceptive. They will know if you are forcing something!
4. Your child is only this age once - enjoy it!
Last, but absolutely not least, this is an incredible, magical time in your child’s life. Take advantage of this wonderful time with your kids by playing games, reading their favorite books, spending time at parks… Anything that allows you to spend quality time together means creating special memories for the both of you.
One of my most absolute favorite parts about teaching pre-k is building relationships with my students and families and helping them find the balance of rigor and love at this special age. I am a firm believer that you can both #letthemplay and show them endless amounts of love - and support them in learning content that encourages them to grow. Don’t be afraid of what may seem to be new, challenging content for them - they can handle it while keeping learning fun!
Stephanie McGhee is a prekindergarten teacher at Rocky Mountain Prep Fletcher, a free, APS public elementary school. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Interested in learning more about Rocky Mountain Prep? Visit our enrollment page or give us a call at 720.863.8922.