Monday, August 28, 2006

Ready for School, or Not?

By Christina VanGinkel

If your child is not headed off to kindergarten or pre-K this fall because they are still too young to attend, and paying for a private school situation is just not within your budget, helping them get started on a life long love of learning is possible. This might be especially important if they were denied access to public school because of their age, yet frame of mind wise, they are more than ready to hit the ground running when it comes to learning. A child such as this can become bored with a daily routine that involves nothing more than playtime and the most basic of activities. They may beg for more interactive activities than their normal routine. Libraries, museums, and creating a school atmosphere in your own home can all help alleviate the boredom that might otherwise encroach during another year at home waiting for their big school debut to begin.

Library

If your child does not yet have their own library card, now is the time to get them one and introduce them to the library system itself. Sure, you might have taken them there before, or it might even be something you include in your weekly activities already, but maybe now is the time to step it up a bit. Have them find a book on their own and check it out. At home, have them mark on a calendar when the book is due back, and make them responsible for reminding you the following week which day is library day. Having them take responsibility for the book they checked out, is a good lesson in dependability.

If your library offers classes or sessions for preschool aged children, inquire if any of them are geared towards kids a bit older, with projects that require more aptitude than the youngest toddler groups. Because libraries may recognize the strength of early readers, they may very well offer a class for kids who just missed the cut off dates for attending school and for early bloomers. A library just one town over from where we live has even offered beginner photography classes for 4 - 6 year old kids in the fall, that were either too young to attend school or were in Homeschool situations. Who would have thought that kids that young would be able to participate in such a class, but by keeping the class size small, and keeping the lessons short and simple, it was a huge success. The kids loved it, and they actually learned quite a bit about taking a picture. The same library also holds a spring gardening class for the same age group. Kids get to plant a sunflower in a container, and they make reports throughout the summer on how well their plant is growing.

Museums

Obtain a list of local and regional museums and create a schedule to visit each one. Too many children go without ever stepping foot inside the wonders of a museum. From children's museums with exhibits and learning opportunities geared directly towards youngsters, to traditional art and science museums, kids may find that they have discovered a completely new world of knowledge and cultural choices. If your child has a special interest, such as dinosaurs or aviation, research it to discover if there are any museums within driving distance of your home or someplace you are planning to vacation soon that ahs an exhibit about the interest.

Create your Own School

Set aside time each day to play school. During this time, get your child to participate in activities that would be common for him or her to take part in at school, such as coloring, counting, practicing the alphabet, art projects, and even simple science experiments. This can break up the monotony for the child still at home.

While there are many differences of opinions when it comes to the age a child should begin school, most states have strict guidelines that parents must follow. If your child is craving the structure that is often associated with school, check out as many of these activities as you can. Get them involved in areas that they show an interest, and do not try to think too much about their age. While you should of course keep their age in mind if a safety concern is at issue, if they are ready to delve into reading, or more complicated mathematic problems, let them try. Whether they complete such a task, or just attempt it, at least they are testing their skills instead of letting them go stagnate during another year at home.

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