We know summer just started but it’s never too early to start preparing for school! In September, many of your children will be “leaving the nest” and going off on their own for the first time. No, not to college…to kindergarten!
For many kids, this will be the first time they spend away from their parents for an extended period. Furthermore, this is the first time they will really get a taste of how school operates as they begin to learn and grow very quickly! At the Children’s Museum in Easton (CME), we spoke to Michelle VanVoorhis and Krissy Cannizzo; both are CME educators and are involved in the Outreach Program. Keep reading for more info on your child’s kindergarten readiness and how the CME works to help with this preparation.
The camps at the Children’s Museum in Easton play a huge part in child development. Michelle says, “Children become better prepared academically, socially, and emotionally for both school and for life…and they have a lot of fun!!”
Each summer the CME offers a series of Summer Mini-Camps. Designed to meet the developmental needs of children ages 3 - 8, the camps offer activities that immerse campers in the theme of the session. Programs are geared for hands-on exploration and provide open-ended opportunities for children to build understanding and knowledge. Your child will learn while having fun!
At camp, children learn a lot of skills: “fine motor skills (cutting, writing, using manipulatives for small motor tasks), large motor skills (large group games, balancing, climbing), social skills (taking turns, sharing, good manners), language skills (speaking in a whole group setting, asking for assistance, appropriate ways to address adults and peers, vocabulary development) reading skills (rhyming, recognizing patterns in stories, print awareness), math skills (counting, patterning, measuring), getting used to school routines, and separating from parents,” Michelle explains.
These skills are honed through camps but also individually. The teachers at camp assist your children in learning, but it’s up to you to continue this learning and preparation! Michelle suggests, “Encourage discussion of what you did in camp today [and] use newsletters that come home each day for ideas. Encourage further investigation of the topic of camp, for example find some books at the library about that theme. [Furthermore,] Model good reading habits! Read to your child daily. Have other kids over to play. Don’t let your child always go first/ always win/ always get his way. Encourage your child to ‘investigate’ things to learn more about them. Allow plenty of time for free, imaginative play, engage in lots of discussion, count, compare, and sort things when the opportunity arises.”
Krissy expands on these notions, “As a former director of a child care center that offered full day kindergarten, I would tell our enrolling families to focus on the self-help skills like being able to zipper or button their coats/clothes, use the bathroom without any assistance, and be familiar with cooperative play, taking turns, sharing etc."
The goal here is to get your child thinking and doing things on his/her own. Teach them enough so that when they get to school, they can expand on that knowledge on their own. You want to build their confidence so that they are secure in themselves when it’s up to them to continue learning on their own. “[At camp,]” Michelle explains, “A few children have to be peeled off their parent on the first day of camp, but by the end they proudly walk through the door on their own.”
It is important to realize that you do not have to worry about every single detail of kindergarten readiness. Krissy says, “Sometimes parents or families put too much pressure on themselves and their soon-to-be kindergarteners, believing he/she should know how to write, read, and recognize all upper and lower case letters. These are the things that will be learned in kindergarten.”