While the second week in April is dedicated nationally to celebrating the Week of the Young Child, OCDE’s Early Learning team works year-round to provide research-based professional learning opportunities, coaching, technical assistance and educational incentives for Orange County early learning and care programs.
The team offers a wide variety of virtual learning trainings to support public and private preschool, child care, transitional kindergarten, kindergarten and community partners serving young children. And, as the lead agency for the OC Child Care Development and Planning Council, OCDE works collaboratively with child care agencies, service providers and parents to assist with the county-wide coordination of child care services and resources.
Part of this collaborative effort includes providing school readiness support for local families. While school readiness isn’t easy to define, OCDE’s Administrator of Early Learning Services Elida Garcia says there are some easy strategies that families can start implementing to get young children ready to start kindergarten.
“While many families sometimes focus on the basics of letter and number recognition or reading skills, kindergarten readiness encompasses more than a few isolated skills,” said Garcia. “We need to look at the whole child and all the skills and strengths each child has developed.”
She shares these six simple tips families can implement when preparing children for their first day of “big kid” school.
Reading daily to children helps them see reading as part of natural daily routines, not just at storytime. Read out loud when reading signs, store ads, notes, letters, etc.
Play listening games like Simon Says, red-light-green-light, and freeze dances that will help build children’s attention skills while having fun.
Develop a routine
Set up morning routines that will transfer into a school setting. Getting up around the same time every day, getting dressed, and having an early breakfast together is a great way to transition to school.
Asking children open-ended questions while conversing or during story time will foster language skills and curiosity.
Talk about feelings
Social and emotional skills are a key ingredient for kindergarten readiness. Children need to learn how to express and cope with their emotions appropriately and form healthy relationships with their peers and grown-ups. Use storybooks about starting kindergarten as a way to explore children’s feelings and review expectations.
Build and create
Provide opportunities for children to create and build structures and objects to foster problem solving and creativity. Let children create with blocks, cardboard boxes, wood sticks, pebbles, tape and other materials, both indoors and outdoors. Try not to use any models, diagrams or pictures so they create on their own.
Additional information about early learning programs and partnerships can be found on the OCDE Early Learning Services website.