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There is much discussion about kindergarten readiness and the need for children to be "ready to learn and succeed" when they enter school. Thanks to scientific research, we know that children start to learn even before they are born. We also know that good schools are responsive to the individual needs of children and families. Kindergarten readiness, therefore, has at least two parts: the capacity of children to learn and the capacity of the school to provide appropriate learning experiences.
When a child is born, he or she has nearly 100 billion brain cells. These cells are called neurons and they are not all connected to each other. During the first years of life, the brain forms literally trillions of connections between these neurons. These connections are called synapses. Two factors affect the way a child's brain develops. First, a nurturing and interesting environment stimulates signals between the neurons. Second, the repetition of signals establishes the connection or synapse between the neurons. The amount and type of positive stimulation of a child receives affects the development of the child's brain by determining how many and which synapses form. Whether a child receives early care and education exclusively in the home or through experiences in child care or preschool, this stimulation should include interactions with responsive and nurturing adults that involve activities such as play, affection, exploration, and language.
By the time the child is 10 or 12 years old, approximately half of the synapses that are formed during the early years will be shed. It is likely that the synapses that are stimulated most during childhood are the ones that remain, while the ones that are used less often disappear. Knowing this helps us to see how the young child's early experiences affect the way the adult brain functions.
Too often when adults consider ways to prepare children for kindergarten, they focus on trying to teach the same skills the child will be learning in kindergarten. They may drill the child in how to count and say the alphabet. They may play regular exercises in which the child demonstrates an understanding of colors, sizes, and shapes. What often gets lost in this academic approach to kindergarten readiness are opportunities for informal learning everyday-learning about relationships, feelings, and about objects and their representations. There are many different types of learning such as learning about cause-and effect relationships, learning through trial and effort, learning through logical or deductive reasoning, and learning what's different and what's the same. The best way to prepare children for kindergarten is to encourage the child's curiosity and learning in many ways, about many things.
Characteristics for Sucess in School
They love to learn.
They ask questions and ask for help.
The children work hard and know that their efforts matter.
They are well developed socially and emotionally.
They are good at assessing their own skills.
Their parents are role models for learning.
The children's parents promote learning by teaching naturally at home.
Their family routines support doing well in school.
The children's parents are effective at setting and maintaining appropriate limits.
The children's schools have high expectations for student achievement and they support professional development of staff.
Essentials to Promote Learning
Encourage the child to explore and make choices.
Mentor the child by teaching with love and appreciation for the child's individually.
Celebrate the child's accomplishments.
Rehearse and extend new skills.
Protect the child from neglect, inappropriate disapproval, teasing, and harsh punishment.
Provide a rich language environment.
Guide and limit the child's behavior to promote positive outcomes.
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