Is My Child Ready for Kindergarten?
Today’s post is a Q&A with Nicole Thompson, Director at Bright Horizons at Trumbull. Nicole began working at Bright Horizons 12 years ago, as a preschool teacher. Throughout her tenure she was promoted to lead teacher, assistant director, and then center director.
We invited Nicole to talk with us and share her valuable perspective; not only is Nicole an educator, she’s also a Bright Horizons parent. She was fortunate to have her children, Brayden, 7 and Rylen 5, right down the hall from where she works at Bright Horizons at Trumbull.
Your youngest Rylen, is graduating from kindergarten-prep this month. Is he looking forward to starting school?
He’s already so excited to be going on the bus with his brother. And it’s very sweet, his brother, Brayden, is looking forward to showing him the ropes; he’ll says things like, “I’ll show you where the library is and where to buy lunch.” They’ve always been very close and now I can see it going to the next level. It’s really heart-warming to see them take care of each other.
When it comes to being ready for school, what words of advice do you have for a parent who asks, “what does my child need to be ready for kindergarten?”
As a center director, I always try and re-iterate to parents that being in child care gives children a great foundation for school. So much of what they learn are terrific building blocks that get them ready for kindergarten: From an academic standpoint, children learn teamwork and how to interact in groups of 20. They also learn how to interact with a teacher, and about routines. They get exposure to math, for example, they are taught patterns – how to sit boy/girl, boy/girl. They develop early writing skills starting with scribbling, to learning the pincer grasp and graduating to making straight letters.
Another big part of what sets them up for school success is the social awareness they learn in child care and in preschool. They get to experience different cultures, different environments, and understand different family dynamics. For instance, children see that there are single parent families and that sometimes it’s grandma who does pick-up.
They also learn empathy and how to be accepting of kids who are not like them. When my older son was at Bright Horizons, he became very aware that some kids have allergies and that you can’t share your food with them. A little girl at our center has diabetes and as a result, her class started to read books about diabetes. Through their interactions with classmates, teachers and other families, children get a basis of social awareness that’s so important.
One of the really neat things is all the great learning that happens in Bright Horizons classrooms continues over the summer as well. Can you tell us a little bit about summer camp at Bright Horizons at Trumbull?
At our center we offer summer camp for preschoolers ages 3-5. Our teachers develop a fun curriculum that celebrates summer while still providing the standard of care they do during the rest of the year. During our Summer Adventures program, children discover science, explore nature, and engage in art. Every week, from July through the end of August, we explore a different theme such as The Great Outdoors, Fun & Fitness, Global Explorers, and Young Artists. We use our outdoor space, and have special visitors from our community. It’s awesome!
Editor’s Note: Programs vary by location. Contact your local center to learn more about our summer camp programs.
What are some easy ways parents can help foster learning outside the classroom over the summer & all year long?
Tap into the everyday activities that they’re excited about or excited to help with; especially those that are tangible and hands-on. For example, my youngest son loves to help make pancakes, so he helps get the ingredients and measure. It’s an easy way to learn math and get excited about reading.
How about when it comes time to actually get ready for that first day of kindergarten? What are some things you’ve learned not only from being a teacher, but also from your own experience as a mom?
Be open to your child’s questions and concerns. Empathize with your child. Some kids think they are going off to kindergarten with their same children they grew up with at child care. If that’s not the case, reassure them that they’ll make new friends and can still keep in touch with their first friends.
Take trips to the school before school starts – do a few playground visits. Take advantage of any social events like ice cream social where your family can get to know other families. The more you start to visit the school, the more comfortable and familiar your child will be on that first day.
Lastly, when the time comes for back to school, get your child involved, this can go a long way to help get them excited; let them pick out pencils and their backpack. That’s a huge deal to them. The same can be said for a toddler transitioning to preschool. It helps build their confidence and helps get them excited about the next step.
Any fun summer vacation plans?
We are going to Portugal for the last two weeks in July. We will be going out there to visit my husband’s grandfather and aunt. This will be my oldest son’s Brayden’s second trip back to Portugal and Rylen’s first adventure!
Thank you Nicole! We appreciate you giving us so many great tips, and sharing a glimpse into life at your center. Enjoy what I’m sure will be a very busy and exciting summer for you and your family!
Photo Credit: Kim Jeckel Photography