School Ready All Year Long!
What does it mean to be ready for school? Readiness is something you can support every day with your children. Families can help children at home during daily family routines like grocery shopping, laundry, drawing, reading stories, and telling stories.
- Read to your child, have books available. Reading with your child in any language supports brain development and literacy.
- Talk about what your child is doing: How did you make that? Tell me about what you are building, drawing?
- Make sure your child gets enough sleep. Lack of sleep is one of the primary reasons children have difficulty in school.
- Practice positive discipline. The Somerville Family Learning Collaborative understands the challenges of parenting and offers workshops that help with the stresses of raising a family. See their website for free workshops.
- Visit the doctor, dentist, regularly and get vision and hearing checked.
- Learn about healthy eating for snacks and mealtimes. Set regular times for meals. Limit sugary snacks. Offer fruits and vegetables.
- Minimize screen time. The American Academy of Pediatrics associates more than 1-2 hours of screen or device time (phones, tablets, computers, television) with health risks such as learning difficulty and behavior issues. Establish a screen-free space at home and offer interactive materials such as drawing, puzzles, games, building materials.
- Make a place at home for quiet activity - scissors, paper, crayons, rulers, a small hole punch, pencils (can be a small spot in a corner - even a tiny rug or box turned upside down can be a special area.
- Help your child to write his or her first name. Write it for them, have them trace over it with a finger or pencil. Trace it with tracing paper. Post it all over the house so they can recognize it. Identify the letter names and sounds in their name and familiar words or signs in the community (Stop. Exit. Etc.)
- Support fine motor - zipping, putting on shoes, coat, mittens and glove (start teaching them now before the snow comes!), putting on backpack, opening lunch containers, using small scissors.
- Count objects 1-10 at home, fruit, napkins, set the table, laundry - sort the sock
- Social Emotional development is a key indicator of school success. This includes:
- Ability to solve problems on his or her own
- Recognizing and understanding feelings
- Sharing toys with others
- Cooperating with peers and being helpful
- Listening to others and following simple directions
Preparing Young Children for the First Day of School
This requires some special preparation but there are simple things you can do at home to prepare children for the first day of school.
- Practice and know the route to school, how long it takes, where the entrance is.
- Come play in the playground - a great way to get exercise and feel comfortable at school.
- Gather supplies: Do you have a backpack, snack bag/lunchbox?
- Get enough sleep - Establish a bedtime routine and wake up time and routine.
- Check the SPS website for dates for orientation, family events, arrival and dismissal times, routines, school calendar.
- Read books about going to school and what happens in school.
Transition to Kindergarten
Somerville knows that the transition to kindergarten can be exciting but also requires family support. We have a carefully planned sequence of activities that help children to feel comfortable with the shift from home, family childcare, or a center-based or public preschool to kindergarten. Parents can visit each school during open houses to see classrooms in action. In addition, families have access to information about preparing children for school. The Somerville Family Learning Collaborative and the SPS Department of Early Education collaborate with local child care centers and preschools. Local teachers share information with children's kindergarten teachers so schools are ready to receive children. They communicate in person during city-wide "Teacher Talks" and through the Kindergarten Transition Form. Parents are also invited to a Welcome to Kindergarten presentation in multiple languages. Children and preschools receive a social story - Goodbye Old School, Hello New School - that helps prepare children for the transition.
Collaborating with Center-Based Programs
Because Universal Kindergarten Readiness is a focus for SPS we work closely with Head Start, center-based programs, and family childcare to build a high quality system of education and care all across the city. We do this through professional development that includes teachers from all kinds of settings, as well as early childhood coaching to support teaching and learning in Somerville Public Schools and centers.