The Easiest Way to Prepare Your Child for a Bright Future: Pre-Kindergarten

Every parent wants to give their child the skills to succeed. For most, these tools include enrolling their children in school around the age of five, helping them with their homework, and emphasizing the importance of academics. However, some parents may be surprised to learn that one of the most proven ways to help their child find future academic success is an early-stage tool: prekindergarten.

Setting a Precedent

A vast and growing body of scientific research shows that enrolling in prekindergarten yields both short and long-term benefits for children and their communities. Preschool exposes young ones to numbers, letters, and shapes during a critical cognitive development stage. Preparing them to understand the concept of counting, giving them a sharper grasp of time, and engaging in fantasy play or storytelling. States that have invested in offering public education pre-k programs for all children have reported significant academic improvements across the board, for all income levels and racial groups. These educational improvements include letter identification, word identification, applied problem solving and spelling. All of which are crucial tools for students to master at a young age in order to stay abreast of their future education. Furthermore, studies that followed subjects for longer periods of time found impressive long-term results concerning educational progress, lowered delinquency, and post-high school earning power. More and more kindergarten teachers are expecting their pupils to already have a basic knowledge of the ABCs, 123s, and the primary colors. However, they now also want them to know how to spell and recognize their name, know the alphabet, name letters, count one to ten, and recognize most of the basic colors and shapes. A pupil entering kindergarten without these skills in hand may struggle to catch up or stay on the same pace as the class. Thus risking a larger and larger academic lag as their education continues.

Increase in Skills

In addition to scholastic improvement, children enrolled in school programs prior to kindergarten have greater opportunities to develop their fine and gross motor skills as well as their social and life skills. At ages 3-4, one should be able to use scissors, copy shapes, negotiate solutions to conflicts with peers, and show interest in spending time with other children. According to research, kids who have positive developmental experiences go on to have a higher vocabulary, are more apt to follow directions, and are more socially confident in their teenage years. Scientific studies show that these earlier educated children also have decreased chances of needing special education services later on in life. Not only does this obviously benefit the child and the family, but it also reduces the financial drain on schools and communities, freeing up extra dollars to be reinvested into improving and expanding other school activities and programs. Cities that invest in early public education see their dollars returned with a closing of their achievement gap, an increase in their graduation rate, and the creation of productive citizens.

In conclusion, parents should consider prekindergarten a crucial step for their children. 3 and 4-year-old brains are like sponges, ready to soak up valuable information and build a strong foundation. With prekindergarten, they will quickly learn how to navigate the academic and social world of kindergarten and beyond.

Helping Grandparents & Grandchildren Prepare for Early Childhood Assessments

Grandparents that are assisting their adult children with child rearing or raising their grandchildren may face a new challenge in understanding the early childhood assessment process. Some grandchildren that are in their care may need an early childhood education assessment for special education. There are grandparents that are unfamiliar with this process so this article will explore some hints to help grandparents have a smoother experience with the early childhood assessment process to determine special education for their grandchildren or young children in their care.

Supportive Programs

First, grandparents may need to familiarize themselves with the types of programs in their communities that provide early intervention services for young children. These early intervention programs start working with children who are very young and then help the grandparents make a referral to early childhood assessment clinics in the school district and community.

There are also grandparents who may need more intensive help and sometimes seeking the assistance of a social worker may help grandparents who need additional services and resources. For example, grandparents with hearing impairments or second language issues may want to request an interpreter for the assessment and eligibility determination meeting. There are also agencies that provide transportation for families who need help getting to the assessment. Grandparents may need to ask questions and find out about these additional community services that could help both the grandparent and the young child complete the assessment process more efficiently.

Wellness Issues

Second, grandparents will want to consider the child’s wellness on the day of the testing. There are times an appointment is rescheduled when the grandchild is sick and just can’t participate in the testing because he or she is not feeling well. Grandparents can help in encouraging the grandchild to be well rested and have a good night’s sleep before the day of testing. It is important for the grandchild to have a breakfast or at least eat something before participating in as much as three hours of testing. It is not unusual for young children to be ‘fussy’ when they get up much earlier than they are used to and have not eaten any breakfast. The child will be asked to complete a wide variety of testing tasks such as working with blocks, pointing to pictures, saying words, answering questions and even complete medical screenings with the school nurse. If the grandchild is well rested and fed they are more likely to be responsive in the day’s testing process.

Paperwork Completion

Third, grandparents are often not prepared for the large amount of educational paperwork to be completed prior to the early childhood assessment. There are times grandparents forget to bring the child’s birth certificate to verify information and check the correct spelling of the child’s name. Grandparents often need to show custody papers if they are the legal guardian of the grandchildren. If the grandparents are simply helping the parents with babysitting (while the parents work) they may need to bring a note from the parent giving the grandparents permission to participate in the assessment (testing) process. Grandparents should not be afraid to request assistance if they have difficulty reading information or are visually impaired. There is often a staff member or someone available to help read and fill out educational forms. In addition, some school districts want the paperwork completed on a computer or electronic devise so grandparents may need to request help in this area as well.

Time Issues

Fourth, time issues may be big factors that impact the completion of the assessment. If grandparents want to speed up the day’s appointment at the assessment center it is really important to arrive a few minutes early. There are often a variety of clinicians (school psychologist, speech therapist, school nurse and teachers) with many scheduled appointments throughout the day. Running even 15 minutes late can throw all the appointments off schedule and even cause the grandparent to reschedule an appointment if the grandchild misses or is late for the first appointment. If the grandparent needs to rush to work and the assessment cannot be completed, the last appointment may need to be rescheduled. Rescheduling appointments in very busy school district assessment centers can take weeks to reschedule and delay the opportunity to complete testing and possibly impact their educational services and placement of the young child in an early childhood special education program.

Grandparents may need to be aware of how long it takes to arrive at appointments. A grandparent taking bus transportation to the testing center may need an extra hour or so to get to the testing center or clinic. Sometimes just assisting a young child with dressing, preparing a diaper or changing bag and snacks before the assessment takes longer than expected. For example, a young child using a walker may take a longer time to get across the parking lot from the car to the assessment center. Time issues seem to be a really big factor in helping the early childhood assessment process to run smoothly.

Conclusion

Grandparents often are a wonderful support for grandchildren and families in attending and completing the early childhood assessment process to determine if there are delays or a need for special education services. Any support for the young child that helps him or her feel good about going to a new place and working with unfamiliar adults will help the child feel more comfortable about the testing experience. Sometimes just simple things such as having a good breakfast and rest can go miles in helping the child adjust to a new situation and different surroundings. Grandparent support is essential and helpful in completing the assessment of the young child and making future educational decisions for grandchildren and children in their care.