San Diego Family: August 2017

Page 26

Kristen Castillo

School Transitions How to prepare for the next level

Back to school brings a mix of emotions for

parents and kids. Feelings range from excitement and hopefulness to uncertainty and anxiety. It’s also a chance for a fresh start. San Diego Family Magazine reached out to education experts and local parents for tips to help kids make smooth transitions throughout their academic years. Here’s what they had to say.

Prep for Preschool Early childhood programs help kids get ready for kindergarten. Preschoolers learn basics like colors, shapes, fine and gross motor skills, as well as confidence, independence and social skills. Shalini Dhiman, owner of The Goddard School preschool in Carlsbad says parents can help kids adjust to preschool by visiting the school and classroom before the first day to get familiar with the surroundings. Help introduce kids to classmates on the first day, and don’t over dress them for school. “Over dressing can make them self-conscious and shy,” Dhiman says. Reassure and encourage. “Daily reminders such as ‘Have fun, stay safe and make good choices’ is something parents should tell their children every morning,” says Dhiman. She also suggests parents kiss and hug their kids daily.

Kick off to Kindergarten Kindergarten used to be a time for kids to acclimate to school. Nowadays it’s more robust and can set children up for future educational success. “While kindergarten remains a year of discovery, it is also an academic year,” says Donna Marriott, a program manager for the San Diego Unified School District. “Children learn the foundations for reading, writing, and math while they learn how school works and who they are as learners.” Kindergarteners experience many changes including losing their first teeth, developing social skills and moving from concrete thinkers to more abstract, conceptual thinkers, says Shawn Edwards, Head of School at LePort School in Solana Beach. “Some will already be readers; others will still be working on fine motor skills needed to master writing and other academic skills,” she says. To get kids ready for kindergarten, Marriott says teachers suggest three things: 1) Read to your child often, in English or in your native language; 2) Talk (and listen) to your children about books, experiences, events and family stories; and 3) Nudge your child to write, which at this age could be drawing.

Parent Feedback Christina Kalberg of Carlsbad says: I wish I had known how important it would be to help my son practice simple things like raising his hand when he wants to talk, sitting still while reading and working quietly. They don’t really teach these things in preschool and I had not focused on manners like this at home. When he got to kindergarten, it was difficult for him to follow these simple rules. The biggest need for kids entering preschool and kindergarten is learning sight words and the sounds of the letters in the alphabet. Knowing these two things helps tremendously with reading.

26 • • August 2017