School Readiness: Standards Sunday

I awoke at about 5 AM this morning with the thought that one day a week of blogging on ways to prepare 0-36 month old children for school could/should not be contained to one day a week (I call those moments my “wake-up epiphanies”…when I am literally jarred awake by a thought.  I could have used the sleep, but school readiness for infants and toddlers is important business!).  Because this type of post is more time consuming than posting an ORB3 Top 10 List, quote, video, or link, I am realistic enough to know that posting on this topic will need to happen on the weekends.  My work/school week simply will not allow for it at this point.  So, today is the kickoff of Standards Sundays!

Today’s standard is:  Explains how the people and events of the past have influenced the present.    This is a kindergarten standard taken from Fairfax County Public Schools, located in northern VA, just outside Washington, DC.  Because this standard is broad, I will discuss the benchmark “Describe life in the present and past and recognize changes over time.”  This benchmark, or point of reference, is measured by the kindergarten teacher in order to measure progress on the meeting the above-mentioned standard.

Being able to talk about life in terms of the present and past as well as being able to recognize change over time is a skill that develops long before a child enters kindergarten.  Children absorb a sense of time from the language they hear around them from 0-36 months of age.  By the end of that time period, typically-developing children have a solid understanding of all three verb tenses (past, present, future) as well as use all three tenses in their own communication.  For example, not only does a 36-month old child understand the sentence “We already went to the store,” but he can also use sentences that express tense (e.g., “The other day we put water in here,” “I am flying like a bird,” and “I’m gonna eat all the peas on my plate!”).

The following list of activities, taken from the Operation Ready By 3 (ORB3) Curriculum for Infants and Toddlers, can be used to build the foundational skills with a child from 0-36 months, so that he will be ready to work on the above benchmark once he is in a formal setting.  Having foundational skills, before he arrives to kindergarten, will allow the child to have a familiarity with the “topic” as well as to meet criteria for the benchmark quickly.  Meeting this benchmark, along with the others associated with the above-mentioned standard, means a child is well on his way to success in school and life.  

  1. Tell child you liked what he did using phrases like “I like the way you ate all your cereal” or “You played so nicely!”
  2. Use full sentences that express tense to child, such as “We already read the book” (past), “We are having fun reading this book” (present), and “We’ll read the book after you eat your lunch” (future).
  3. When child is crawling, walking or running away, use the phrase “I’m gonna get you!” (future tense) to start a game of “chase.”  If child isn’t mobile yet, you can use the phrase to start a “tickling” game.
  4. When child points at something, tell him “You showed me the _____” (past) and “Good pointing!” (present). 
  5. Ask the child to tell you what sound an animal or object makes (e.g., What does the firetruck do?).  If child makes the sound, tell him “You made the sound of a ______!” (past).   If child is not making sounds yet in response to those types of questions, tell him what sound the animal/object makes (e.g., “The firetruck says woo-woo-woo.”) (present tense).
  6. Comment on how “big” child is getting (i.e., remark on how he is changing over time).  You can use pictures of him when he was a younger child (e.g., newborn, “sitting up” baby, learning to walk, etc.).  When he outgrows clothes or shoes, tell him “You are getting so big your clothes/shoes don’t fit anymore.”
  7. Talk about the seasons and the weather changes that occur where you live.  For example, talk about temperature change, plant-life change, animal habits that change with the season, and the different clothing needed for each season or type of weather.  
  8. Read books, look at pictures, search the internet for images, and do fun activities with child that focus on how his life is different from how people lived in the past.  Possible topics that would interest a child 0-36 months of age would be clothing people wore, games and toys children played with, houses people lived in, and the kinds of transportation they used.  Use language such as “This man had to ride a horse to work because there were no cars” or “This boy played with this cup and ball toy when he was your age.”
  9. Ask child to help you blow on hot food before he eats it.  While he blows, tell him “Good blowing.”  When he’s done, tell him “You blew on it and now it is cool.”  The comments help him understand verb tense (present versus past) as well as that the food changed from too hot to cool enough to eat.
  10. When child is upset and must take a break or sit in “time-out” for making a wrong/bad choice, tell him afterwards “You got yourself together,” “You are ready to make a better choice,” or “Now you can join the group again since you are feeling better.”  This helps him understand emotional change within himself and how his behavior affects others.

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