EARLY YEARS: Quality preschool makes transition to kindergarten much easier for children

Greenvale School preschool class is busy learning sight words and writing their names
Greenvale School preschool class is busy learning sight words and writing their names(WDBJ)
Published: Aug. 8, 2017 at 8:19 AM EDT
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Do you remember being in kindergarten?

You might have memories of finger painting, being on the playground or especially, taking naps.

These days, there are more expectations of children when they enter school for the first time.

Five-year-old Keyhana Sandidge is a rising kindergartner who's now in a preschool class at Greenvale School in Roanoke. She says she's already learning how to read.

"I can read 'Jack Be Nimble.' I can read 'Humpty Dumpty', says Keyhana.

Greenvale School is one of several preschools and day care centers under the umbrella of Smart Beginnings of Greater Roanoke, which is supported by the United Way.

Its goal is to get kids ready to start school for the first time.

"85% of a child's brain development comes before the age of five. So, it's really important that children get access to quality child care and preschool so that they can allow their brain to develop to its fullest potential," says Vivien McMahon, with United Way of Roanoke Valley.

In preschool, kids typically learn literacy skills, as well as important social skills.

Pamela Johnson is a teacher at Greenvale School. "By the time they get to kindergarten, these children will be able to recognize sight words, follow instruction,they will be able to sit for long periods of time, listen to the teacher," she says.

That's how they prepare in preschool, but what can parents do help with the transition to kindergarten?

"One of the things that we always encourage parents to do is allow them to be independent. So, let them pick out their own clothes. Let them get dressed by themselves. Teach them to take care of their own hygiene habits like going to the restroom, washing their hands," says McMahon.

Mastering some of those skills make it easier for kids to focus on learning.

Another tip, according to McMahon, take your rising kindergartner to visit their new school.

"If you have a chance to visit classroom or teacher beforehand, open houses can be kind of overwhelming for children, too, so it might be a good idea to schedule a personal meet and greet with your teacher before school starts," she says.

We have helpful links about the importance of kindergarten readiness to the right of this story.