Are preschools meeting the needs of preschool children to coincide with Georgia Performance Standards? Let’s take a look at Georgia preschool programs to see if they really prepare children for kindergarten. The state of Georgia and more importantly Atlanta, has several preschool programs that offer a wide range of school readiness curriculums.
The state of Georgia revised its’ Performance Standards in 2008. According to http://www.georgiastandards.org kindergarten students develop the ability to sustain their attention for an age-appropriate length of time. By the end of the year kindregarten students should know the basics of the sound-printcode; that words contain sounds that are represented by letters, and that letters combine to make words. In kindergarten the mastery of reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills is essential for enrichment and lifelong learning. By the end of kindergarten students will understand small numbers, quantities, and simple shapes in their everyday environment. They will also count, compare, describe and sort objects, and develop a sense of properties and patterns.
Georgia Performance Standards requires kindergarten students to use representations to model addition and subtraction. Students must also know how to measure length, capacity, weight, height, and time. Students will learn to identify coins and their value. In science children will participate in hands-on student-centered, and inquiry-based approaches; this type of learning is very similar to preschool. Students use various ways of thinking and investigating, as well as knowledge of the natural world. In kindergarten students begin to understand the foundations of the social studies strands: history, geography, government, and economics. Students learn about U.S. history, American holidays and symbols. Children will also participate in motor skills and movement patterns needed to perform a variety of activities in physical education.
Preschool should set the foundation for kindergarten as well as for a life of learning. While looking at Metro Atlanta preschool programs let us begin with Bright From The Start, Georgia’s Department of Early Care and Learning. Bright From The Start establishes guidelines for meeting the childcare and early education needs of Georgia’s children.
Stimulation to the brain during the preschool years is very important because during this time children develop approximately 70% of their brain connections. A good preschool program will provide core social, emotional, and basic skills for kindergarten. Parents can go to the Bright From The Start website http://www.brightfromthestart.com to learn about essential skills preschoolers need before entering kindergarten.
The Bright From The Start website has questions parents need to answer in order to decide if their child is ready for school. Children should be writing with a Tripod Grasp (index finger & thumb). Children should be able to cut accurately. Kids should be happy to perform tabletop activities. Drawings should be recognizable. Does your child use a dominant hand when writing and drawing, and can they write their own name? These are just a few questions parents should ask and answer to identify if their child is school ready or not.
Children need good posture, muscle tone and fine motor control to begin school. Kids need sufficient physical development to competently master the technical aspects of school. Motor skills and social skills are the foundation for much of a child’s early learning. Gross motor skills such as catching and throwing, running, jumpimg, and balancing are some imperative skills for school readiness. Children also need visual perception skills; copying sequences and shapes, and finding hidden objects. Kids should also possess self-help skills like dressing themselves, tying shoes, and managing zippers and buttons.
On Bright from the Start’s site, http://www.decal.ga.gov parents can find information on pre-k programs, licensed child care centers, Head Start, and Even Start (formerly Early Head Start). The different programs follow different guidelines, but all with the same end goal in mind; making sure Georgia’s preschoolers are ready for kindergarten!