Manual Getting Your Child Ready for Kindergarten (Parents as Partners)

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The benefits of parent involvement are clear: A growing body of research shows that successful parent involvement improves not only student behavior and attendance but also positively affects student achievement. Yet many schools continue to struggle with defining and measuring meaningful parental involvement, and many don't feel that their efforts are successful. A recent survey of American teachers revealed that 20 percent of new teachers and nearly one fourth of principals identify their relationships with parents as a cause of significant stress in their jobs MetLife, In this article, we offer research-based advice and resources designed to help schools and districts foster successful parent involvement.

Getting Your Child Ready for Kindergarten | Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

Successful parent involvement can be defined as the active, ongoing participation of a parent or primary caregiver in the education of his or her child. Parents can demonstrate involvement at home-by reading with their children, helping with homework, and discussing school events-or at school, by attending functions or volunteering in classrooms. Schools with involved parents engage those parents, communicate with them regularly, and incorporate them into the learning process.

Schools often don't engage parents because they don't think they can. Teachers perceive that families don't want to be involved when, in fact, families don't know how to be involved," says Karen Salinas, communications director for the Center on School, Family, and Community Partnerships at Johns Hopkins University.

For their part, parents are sometimes hesitant to become involved in school because they don't have extra time or because they don't speak fluent English. But "the biggest problem is the disconnect between the school and the families," says Salinas. It comes in part from their own education history. They often have had a less-than-satisfactory experience with their own schooling, and so they don't feel like [being involved] is guaranteed to be a good experience.

Despite these communication barriers, both schools and parents want the relationship to improve, if only for the benefit of students. Schools successful in engaging parents start by going beyond narrow definitions of involvement. They don't just count the number of parents who attend the spaghetti dinner or volunteer at the book fair.

Preparing Children for Kindergarten

They don't focus on requirements such as having parents sign reports cards. Instead, they start with a belief that student success is a shared interest of both school and family, envision parents as partners in the learning process, and then identify concrete ways that partnership can be activated. Effective communication requires a two-way flow of information.

While most schools develop efficient structures for getting information out-such as newsletters, Web sites, and press releases-far fewer develop similar structures to ensure that feedback from parents is actively solicited. For some schools, improving communication involves technology such as e-mail messages and interactive phone systems.

How can I prepare my child for starting kindergarten?

When Stonewall Jackson High School in Manassas, Virginia, implemented an interactive voicemail, for instance, the school saw parental attendance at freshmen orientation jump from 50 to 1, Viadero, Parents can use the system, called ParentLink, to hear messages from teachers about what is happening in their children's classes and access their children's grades and attendance records.

Other schools try to view parent involvement through the parents' eyes.

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Day Elementary in Seattle, for example, holds parent meetings and workshops not at the school but in a Family Center that operates in the neighborhood where many of their bilingual families live. Of course, the use of any strategy must be tailored to the school's population. If families don't have reliable access to the Internet, e-mail won't work.

A phone message in English won't communicate much to parents who speak only Spanish. The bottom line for schools is to communicate using strategies that convey what is important in a way that can be heard by parents and families and invites them to respond. Maryland's Parent Advisory Council formed a subcommittee on nontraditional school-parent communication.

The National Network of Partnership Schools at Johns Hopkins University offers school-family communication suggestions and success stories. For more information on family involvement in Seattle Public Schools, visit the district's Web site. We know that one thing that keeps parents from being involved is their discomfort with schools. And that discomfort often stems from parents not knowing how to be involved. Schools with a commitment to parent involvement take an active role in helping parents learn a variety of ways to be involved.

Many schools use workshops and other school-based programs to help parents learn about what goes on in classrooms. For example, Clara E. Westropp School in Cleveland, Ohio, held monthly family reading nights. Even traditional involvement strategies present teaching opportunities.

Sending home a "weekly work folder" is one positive step, but providing parents with specific information about what to look for in the student work goes one step further in communicating what's important.

Engaging Families in Early Childhood Education

TIPS aims to forge a three-way relationship between teachers, parents, and their children through a creative approach to homework. Select a School. Sign In. Search Our Site. Southwest Early Childhood Center Learning. Home About Us ". Getting Ready for Kindergarten. Southwest Early Childhood Center. As your child's first teacher, you play an important role in your child's readiness for school.

In a national survey, kindergarten teachers said that parents have the biggest impact on whether a child starts school ready to learn. According to teachers, the most important abilities when children start school are not necessarily the academic skills that we think of, but social-emotional abilities like getting along with other children and teachers, and working on their own without disrupting the classroom. Skills like naming letters and counting are important of course, but your child learns those and other skills best through play and everyday hands-on experiences such as reading together daily, playing at parks and playgrounds, shopping together, and visiting museums, zoos, and libraries.

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These skills will continue to be learned and practiced during kindergarten :. Has a 15 minute attention span : ability to stay on task listening to a story, coloring, puzzles, etc. Fine motor skills : Holds pencil correctly, looks at a shape and is able to reproduce it, draws a picture, cuts around a simple shape, uses glue and glue sticks.

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  4. Says ABCs : recognize upper and lower case letters, recognize at least letters in name. Counts : Rote counts to 30 minimum of 10 , counts 12 items, recognizes numbers Ainsworth discovered the attachment system , which we understand now is linked in part to the hormone oxytocin that is naturally released during parent-child interactions to increase bonding and reduce anxiety. When we send children off to school, we are asking them to leave their secure base and head off into the great unknown, which can create anxiety.

    Even if your child has been in full-day daycare, kindergarten offers a range of new challenges. These include the social demands of larger class sizes with fewer adults and more peer social interactions to navigate, as well as having to deal with older students in the hallways, bathrooms and on the playground. There is also a larger physical space and a bell system that divides the day into segments.

    Taken together, the adjustment can be immense. In the days of the one-room schoolhouse, the transition to school would likely have been easier, as older siblings, cousins and close neighbours would have been sitting together with the novice student. However, in larger cities we segregate children by age, and fewer students attend local schools because specialized magnet schools draw children from all corners of the city. The outcome is that everyone has to make new friends, which can make the adjustment more challenging. Not to worry though. In the weeks before the start of school, you can begin to change routines like bedtime and breakfast.

    Predictable routines are important in early childhood and changes in routines have been linked to difficulties adjusting to kindergarten. It is wise to begin early and make changes gradually. Have them draw and talk about both positive and anxiety-provoking activities. Then ease their worries by acknowledging feelings and coming up with solutions.

    The night before the big day, work with them to get everything ready for the next morning. Prepare a one-page note with key information about your child. It might also include any worries they have about starting school.

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    Go to the school the week before the start of classes so your child can meet the secretary and classroom teacher, tour their classroom, and locate the washroom. If possible, give them a chance to flush the toilet as some loud flushes can be frightening. Do not forget to tour the playground!

    About full-day kindergarten

    Some schools do offer an orientation in the spring but most young children will need to visit closer to the first day.