Another successful Lunch and Learn event on March 6 was organized through Durham's Early Childhood Faith Initiative. The topic, "The Serious Business of Play- Getting Children Ready for Success in School," had three presenters speak about how to best prepare a child for their entry into kindergarten.
Pat Harris, Program Coordinator at Durham's Partnership for Children, talked about Durham's Transition to Kindergarten Initiative. As part of this work, she is putting together "Blast Off to Kindergarten" kits that will be available at various kindergarten readiness events this season. These kits contain items that encourage creative and imaginative play, such as:
- Draw a Picture Tell a Story booklets in which children can create an image and have their parents can record the story of that image
- Emotion flash cards so children can learn to identify emotions in themselves and their classmates
- Building blocks that allow for color and shape recognition as children plan and build figures
Helen Tharrington of Westminster Presbyterian is an experienced preschool teacher in a faith-based environment. She discussed how children enter school with a broad range of cognitive and developmental skills. THe most important thing they need to function in school and be ready to learn is social skills. If a child doesn't know how to sit and settle down for story time, it makes it extremely difficult for them to learn, regardless of whether or not they know how to write their name.
Miriam Broderson of Healthy Families Durham (a Smart Start funded program at the Center for Child and Family Health) emphasized the importance of a child having a strong foundation from their earliest years in order to prepare them for school success. Forming a secure attachment with caregivers in infancy helps put a child's social-emotional development on track. For older children, Miriam stressed the significance of keeping a regular routine. She stated that in her personal opinion, "consistent bedtimes and mealtimes eliminate 75% of all behavior issues." Having a good night's sleep and a full tummy makes it far easier for a child to focus.
Children, like all of us, have a fear of the unknown. Equipping your child with the necessary social skills, the ability to recognize and regulate their emotions, and the knowledge that they can count on you to be their base, can better prepare them to navigate through the unfamiliar situations they'll encounter at school than anything else.
The Transition to Kindergarten Initiative is supported through funding from the Morgan Creek Foundation and the Wells Fargo Foundation, and implemented in collaboration with Durham Public Schools. Click here to learn more about this initiative.
The Faith Initiative is a collaborative project between Durham's Partnership for Children and End Poverty Durham that recognizes the role that the faith community plays in providing support to families and children. Click here to learn more about this initiative.