As an educator and parent, I’m always interested in learning what truly makes a child ready for school. There are so many myths and trends out there about how to prepare children for kindergarten and beyond, but what really works? A recent study revealed what teachers think and in my 17-year career I’ve also encountered some common myths of which to be aware:
- Myth No. 1 – Learning the ABCs is crucial to school readiness.
The Truth: While important, learning the ABCs is a memorization skill. It's more important that children recognize letters and identify their sounds. At Bright Horizons, we incorporate a language rich environment throughout our learning centers. Last month our kindergarten class took clipboards and participated in an activity called “Write the Room.” They wrote down any words they discovered around the classroom which helps with one-to-one correspondence with letters, writing and tracking while reading left to right.
- Myth No. 2 – Children need to count to 50 before going to grade school.
The Truth: Again, while it is important that children understand the order of numbers it is far more important to understand the idea of quantity and 1-to-1 correspondence (each number counted corresponds to an object, person, etc.).
- Myth No. 3 – The more a program looks like the school we remember as a child, the more children will learn.
The Truth: Young children learn best in an environment that allows them to make choices and to select their own materials for at least part of the day. This empowers them to try new things with the support of a teacher who guides the learning. You’ll notice that in our classrooms, all learning centers and activities are within children’s reach so they are able to make choices independently.
- Myth No. 4 - Children need quiet to learn.
The Truth: Children need a language-rich environment where adults provide responsive language interactions and where vocabulary is regularly introduced. So when you visit us at , don’t surprised if you hear lots of laughter, babbling and chatter.
- Myth No. 5 - Learning to write is all about letter formation.
The Truth: While letter formation is one part, even more important to understand the idea of recording one's ideas on paper. When a child makes some scribbles and says, "This is my daddy," write your child's words on the picture and she will begin to make connections between spoken and written words. The first step to writing is to master fine motor skills and the pincer grasp which begins with infancy. We reinforce this in our infant program by giving the babies Cheerios to pick up. As they get older, children learn that symbols on paper are actually recordings of their thoughts. This week our preschool classroom created spring pictures and then used dictation to describe their pictures.
I hope you’ll share your own experiences here. What do you think best prepares children for kindergarten?