One Sunflower

all kinds of “kindergarten readiness”

on May 22, 2012

Her mom sat across from me for our last parent conference of the year. Our first chat took place in her home last August when all I knew about her daughter was a name and a birth date.  The talkative 4 year old showed me her bedroom and her most prized possession: a large roll of butcher paper her aunt had given her – ah, my first insight,  this child loved to draw.

Our second visit took place at school during the regular November conference schedule.  All my initial assessments had been done on this child and I was able to tell the mom her daughter was a typically developing child who was highly engaged with her classmates and school environment. I asked her mom to name the goals she had for her daughter’s year in preschool.  “I want her to be ready for kindergarten.” What a loaded phrase that is.

At our third conference in February, I was pleased to report her daughter was making good progress on her academic goals.  But her social emotional goals were more challenging to support.  This little girl is what many have come to describe as “a highly sensitive” child.  It is like her senses are on steroids.  Sounds and touch are especially provocative stimuli.  “She’s in my bubble!” or “They won’t be quiet”  were often the wails I would hear from this child during circle and small group activities.

I described the supports I was putting in place to help her daughter be successful in situations that were the most challenging.  I had found that seating her on the end of a table instead of the middle helped limit side contact with her peers. Giving her a choice to walk at the back of the line or to hold my hand to narrow the fields demanding her attention were also helpful supports.  (Just a few weeks ago I discovered that instead of putting her name on the rug for seating at circle time, it worked wonderfully to give her a carpet square she could move to “make her bubble bigger.”)

The mom winced a bit as I talked.  “But is she going to be ready for kindergarten?” she asked.

“Yes,” I could answer with confidence, knowing  time in preschool is one of the best guarantees.

So here we were at this fourth conference, a time to summarize a child’s preschool experience and look forward to the transition to kindergarten in the fall.  This year I’ve been asking parents to write a note to the kindergarten teacher about their child, describing the relationship they hope the teacher will have with their 5 year old.

Of course I always pass on a few tips to the teacher as well but I think this mom wrote a wonderful note: “She is a sensitive girl with strong emotions.  I find a quiet chat can calm her down and help her focus.”

I am especially thankful  this mom and daughter have had a year of preschool.  It has been a time to “work the bugs out.”  Other children like this little girl will come to kindergarten without the benefit of a teacher with some inside information about their needs. Months may pass as child, parent and teacher get things sorted out.

Mom and daughter are at least on their way to being kindergarten ready.

8 responses to “all kinds of “kindergarten readiness”

  1. As we watch our children disappear into the convoluted maze of development that school represents: socialization, societal skills, and developmental skills, pressure seems to build up inside of every mom: how will my child do? Children that are very sensitive always have more work “fitting in” and sharing space with many other people in a space that perhaps is too small for the amount of bodies in it.

    Regimentation in our society such as putting up with traffic, rush hours, crowded shipping malls on Black Friday, entering a theater, stadium, or public transportation comes at a steep price, and it all comes down to being kindergarten ready, or does it?

    I was one of those special children.

    • onesunflower says:

      @I can do this
      Your comment made me realize that my entry didn’t say all that I intended. What I want to express is that the preschool experience I provide fosters opportunities for children, parents and future teachers to get to know children and their unique needs and prepare all for the next steps that begin with kindergarten.

  2. Ruth Ayres says:

    Thanks for sharing this child across time with us. It’s a scary passage — sending your child to kindergarten. I can only imagine how much easier you make it.

  3. Mandy Chock says:

    You must be an amazing preschool teacher. Conferencing on a consistent basis with a parent is so refreshing! It is also refreshing to read about a mom who truly listened to the things you shared about her child, and was able to embrace and articulate her child’s sensitive personality positively.

    I hope I will be “kindergarten ready” when it is my daughter’s turn. :)
    Thank you for sharing!

  4. Tara says:

    They certainly are ready! Thank you for sharing the journey all three of you made this year.

  5. Kjersten says:

    I was just thinking about my son’s own transition to kindergarten today. This made me smile wide. Thanks!

  6. This post is a lovely justification for why we need several conferences with our young families, throughout the school year. Truly, we are helping parents and child be kindergarten ready, pre-K ready, whatever! What beautiful growth you have described here. I love your invaluable observations about how this little girl learns best…ways to ensure success for her. May her family keep these in mind through the years!

  7. What a blessing to have this kind of partnership between teacher, student and parent. Talk about setting her up for success. Impressive.

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