Ask an Expert: What do I do to get my child ready for Pre-school?

jane-madisonBelow is a guest post by Jane Madison, an early childhood education expert and pre-K teacher at Saint Peter the Apostle School on Wilmington Island:

Many parents wonder how to prepare their child for preschool. The answer is,simply, by doing anything that helps your child develop emotionally, cognitively, and physically.

Research shows there are certain times when the brain is becoming wired for specific skills at an optimum level. The development of social and emotional intelligences, motor and vision skills, thinking and reasoning skills and even the foundation skills needed for reading begin at the moment your child is born.

This article will focus on language development. Sound discrimination and vocabulary development, which are two indicators of reading success, begin developing at birth, with the optimum opportunity being 0-24 months. The greatest enhancement of these two skills occurs from 2-7years for sound discrimination and 2-5 years for vocabulary development. (To view the complete chart, go to www.pamschiller.com.

Children learn sounds by hearing them, and develop language by being spoken to. Talk to your child about everything that is going on around you all day long. When he asks questions, answer him. When he asks the same question over and over again try to rephrase your answer, so he hears different vocabulary. Turn the tables on him by saying,”You tell me what it is?” Have conversations with your child and resist the temptation to answer for him when he seems stuck. Forming the words in his mind and then saying them takes time, and letting him go through this process will seal the new vocabulary in his mind.

Also, it is important to stay on top of any infections or fluid build-up in the ears. Children who cannot hear sounds cannot learn them!
Read to your child 15 to 20 minutes every day. This can be at more than one session, but gradually build time as your child learns to sit still longer. Reading helps develop vocabulary, comprehension and gives you and your child more opportunities to converse.

Talking to and reading with your child is an easy way to help him develop some of the skills he will need for school success.

Jane Madison graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in Early Childhood Education. She has been teaching pre-school in Savannah for over 20 years. In addition to teaching, she has worked as a consultant training teachers working in the Georgia State Funded Pre-Kindergarten program as well as presenting workshops at local, state and national Early Childhood conferences. Jane is currently teaching pre-kindergarten at Saint Peter the Apostle School on Wilmington Island. She is married and the mother of two grown children.

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