Early education and early education funding are causes near and dear to my heart. San Diego County, like many other counties around the country, has thousands of young children ages 4-5 who are slowly getting ready for kindergarten. Although pre-kindergarten is a great option, it is often not available to all because of the lack of classrooms and teachers needed compared to the number of children eligible to attend. High registration costs also hamper many families from registering for preschool as well. Researchers have done many studies that show that children who attend programs like early head start, head start, and pre-kindergarten often do better in school than children who enter directly into kindergarten. The support given to children in programs like these can help them enter school as active learners and ready for success.
The transition to a pre-kinder program may be a challenge for both parents and children. For some children entering an environment alone where they are away from familiar faces might cause stress. Parents also may feel scared or anxious to leave their children alone with strangers in a new place. Preparing our children for being somewhere new and around strange faces is a great way to try and make a smooth transition into a school environment. But how can we prepare ourselves and our children for this?
The San Diego County Library offers children and parents free seminars and sessions that will reinforce skills that children need for kindergarten success. The “Kinder Gear Up” program offers information to parents on what to expect from Kindergarten and how to support their child through this time of big changes. This program is for children 4-5 years old.
The program is 10 sessions long and includes topics like: Be Yourself, Be Aware, Be Clean, Be Brave, Be Kind, Be Healthy, Be Prepared, Be Polite, Be Responsible, and Be Safe. The sessions are broken up into 20-minute periods of time where both parents and children participate in a variety of workshops on topics ranging from basic Kindergarten skills, keeping children safe and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
The children can practice being apart from parents and caregivers for short periods at a time to help them grow accustomed to the atmosphere of a Kindergarten classroom. Parents can practice being away from their children while still being able to go check on them if needed.
The Kinder Gear Up program is offered in specific San Diego County Libraries, to find out where the closest Kinder Gear-Up event to you will be held visit a San Diego County Library.
Our children growing up can be exciting and nerve wracking, I encourage all families with little ones preparing to go into Kinder this coming schoolyear to participate in a program like this. This can help relieve some anxiety that both you and your child may have about entering school.
Executive Director, First 5 San Diego