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What You Need to Know About Preparing Your Preschooler for Kindergarten By Natalie Emmons, PhD and Lauren Treptow, CDA The question, “Is my child ready for kindergarten?” crosses every parent’s mind as they start to prepare their child for the transition from preschool or athome-care to the seemingly daunting and more structured setting of public school. The leap to kindergarten is an exciting and emotional time for families. It should be a time filled with joy and excitement rather than fear and worry. Pre-K programs are an excellent way to help prepare your preschooler for kindergarten, however, there are several things to consider when selecting a quality program. The Physical, Cognitive, and EmotionalSocial Development of the Pre-K Child

"In Human Development: A Cultural Approach, Jeffrey Jensen Arnett writes that from 3 to 6 years of age, children grow 2-3 inches and gain 5-7 pounds per year. Children’s brains are also rapidly developing during this time. By age 6, the brain reaches 90% of its adult weight. The frontal lobes—which are involved in emotion regulation, planning, problem solving, impulse control, social behavior, and our sense of self—grow faster than other brain regions during this time. Children’s attention and memory improves as the reticular formation and hippocampus brain regions mature. Good nutrition and stimulating experiences during the early years are critical for ensuring the proper development of children’s bodies and brains. As their bodies and brains grow, children’s gross 42 March 2018

and fine motor skills also change. Between ages 3 and 6, the increasingly active and independent child develops the gross motor skills to climb stairs unattended, throw a ball farther and with more accuracy, catch a ball, increase their running speed and make sudden stops and direction changes, and can make a running jump. Children’s hand and finger dexterity also advance between ages 3 and 6. The fine motor skills that initially enabled children to pick up a crayon and scribble on a piece of paper rapidly develop to allow them to draw recognizable objects and figures. These skills continue to be honed in early childhood as children learn to draw different shapes and to write letters and words. Dressing themselves, using utensils more efficiently to feed themselves, and tying their shoes are all accomplishments we can expect from children as they approach kindergarten. These skills of course require practice and patience from caregivers. Quality pre-K programs will include practicing these and many other motor skills as part of their curriculum. As their brains continue to grow and change, children quickly become more proficient problem solvers and are eager to learn new information. Current theories support that children’s learning is more of a continuous process and highly dependent on the amount of educational experiences afforded to them. Children are naturally curious and thrive on hearing explanations for how and why things occur. Answering children’s “how” and “why” questions and encouraging them to ask these kinds of questions about the world around them can motivate their curiosity and inspire them to

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