Special to the Tribune
|Alice Mattingly, 3, at an art booth during the Kindergarten Transition and Resource Fair.|
This past Saturday, families from all over the quad-city area attended the third annual Kindergarten Transition and Resource Fair on the Yavapai College Prescott Campus.
Humboldt Unified School District was one of many area schools represented at the free fair. Staff offered information to parents about their schools' kindergarten programs and ways to get children ready to succeed in school.
The most popular tip? "Read to them," said Penny Nicholson, kindergarten teacher at Washington Traditional School. "Reading is the foundation for everything else."
Studies show that reading aloud to young children for 15-30 minutes daily has a number of benefits, including building vocabulary, raising IQ, helping children develop focus and attention skills, and building imagination. All these things are critical for school success.
To celebrate the importance of reading, the Yavapai College NAEYC Future Teachers Club threw a Dr. Seuss Birthday Bash at the fair. Families participated in a number of activities, including games, art project, cookie decorating, and of course, reading.
"You have to read to them every single day," said Bo Woods, who attended the Kindergarten Fair and Dr. Seuss Birthday Bash with his wife Jennifer and their two kids Chessa and Cash. The Woods learned at the fair about the tri-city area's open enrollment policy, which allows families to enroll their child in any of the area schools. As a result, Bo and Jennifer will attend as many open houses as they can to select the best school for their children.
Many area teachers also spoke about the benefits of enrolling children in quality preschool or childcare.
"Children who attend preschool come to kindergarten more socially and academically prepared," said Lynette Buskirk, kindergarten teacher at Prescott Valley's Mountain View Elementary. "They focus for longer periods of time, and they have better social skills. They start the year ahead."
The stakes are high for today's kindergartens.
"With the new common core standards focused on critical thinking skills, the academics are more strenuous," said Julie Bekkala, kindergarten teacher at Liberty Traditional School in Prescott Valley. "The children who have gone to preschool get a jump start on their education."
Julie Mattingly, mother of 3-year-old Alice, was surprised to learn that many of the area schools offer a Pre-K program. Since research has shown that quality preschool has a number of benefits, including improving math, language and social skills, Mattingly is thinking of enrolling her daughter.
One last tip to get your child ready for school? "Don't wait until July or August to get their kindergarten check-up," said John Coomer of Ponderosa Pediatrics in Prescott. Since all kids need a checkup before entering kindergarten, Coomer said these months are swamped.
The Kindergarten Transition and Resource Fair and Dr. Seuss Birthday Bash was organized by the Del E Webb Family Enrichment Center and the Yavapai College NAEYC Future Teachers Club with a grant from First Things First. First Things First works to make sure all young children in Arizona are healthy and ready to succeed. For more information about First Things First, visit ReadyAZKids.com.