Page 26 - Scene Magazine 46-02 February 2021
P. 26

 The Stepping Stone
 It’s right about this time of year that parents of preschoolers are evaluating what the next steps will be for their children. Most assume that as age five looms that their young student-to-be must enter school in the fall. According to the Michigan Department of Education a child who is five years old on or before September 1 may enroll in kindergarten, but they do not have to.
In fact, in the state of Michigan enrollment into kindergarten is not required at all, but rather is strongly recommended.
From the school’s perspective, kindergar- ten is looked at as the step that sets the groundwork for later school success by helping to bridge the way into effective learning. Parents too, view kindergarten as the first step their children will take as they transition into school system learning. As a result, nearly all will follow this path.
Your child does not have to take an entry test for kindergarten. Instead, if your child meets the age requirement, he or she is eligible to attend kindergarten in Michigan’s public schools.
You may be surprised to learn that in Michigan children are not required to be enrolled in a public or a non-public school until age six. If your child enters public school at age six without having completed kindergarten, he or she may be placed in the first program of study, and frankly that is kindergarten.
Interestingly, the kindergarten entry age requirement does not apply to non-public schools.
Non-public schools may set their own enrollment policies and may choose different age cut off dates. Please contact your local non-public school for a copy of their enrollment policies.
The school system that you intend to have your children attend may have guidelines of their own so be sure to be in contact with the school before it’s decision time. It’s important to learn sooner rather than later what developmental milestones children should have conquered to be successful. According to kindergarten teachers the skills that they indicate as most important to success are social and emotional skills. When these skills are lacking the children are more likely to experience rejection or negative interactions with other students, which can also impact teachers, as well as learning.
According to the MSU Extension Office, learning specialists, and area kindergarten and preschool teachers alike, the social and emotional skills identified as essential for academic success include:
• Getting along with others (parents, teachers,
and peers).
• Following directions.
• Ability to sit in one place and take turns.
• Strong language skills to listen and engage
with others.
• Identifying and regulating one’s emotions and
• Thinking of appropriate solutions to conflict. • Frustration tolerance.
• Persisting on task.
• Engaging in social conversation and cooperative play.
• Correctly interpreting other’s behaviors and emotions.
• Curiosity and interest in discovery and learning. • Feeling good about oneself and others.
Beyond having adequate social and emotional skills there are also learning related skills that your child can benefit from having an understanding
of. Mastery is not necessary; they will continue to work on all of these skills throughout the school year. Working on these with your child at home over the spring and summer will help to support their transition to school in the fall.
Work with your child using a variety of materials and keep the learning fun, not stressful. Help them to be able to write their name in
upper and lowercase letters. Find other ways to integrate learning all the letters of the alphabet in different ways. Move into working on identifying sounds for letters and words that rhyme, this
will help with reading readiness as will being read to. Be sure your child knows how to hold a book, understands that words go left to right, and that we read from the front to the back. Number recognition and counting can be done with just about everything you do from finding the right station on T.V. to other technology that is part of the home. Practice counting to 10, 20, and then 30, and be able to visually recognize and name numbers. Identifying colors and shapes can be done with all sorts of activities. Help them to

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