F5 Countdown Kinder booklet English2

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FIRST 5 Santa Clara County                c/o United Way Silicon Valley
4000 Moorpark Ave., Suite 200             1400 Parkmoor Ave., Suite 200
San Jose, CA 95117                        San Jose, CA 95126
P: 408.260.3700                           P: 408.345.4361
F: 408.296.5642                 

                                                                           A Parent Handbook
                                                                           Preparing Your Child for a Successful Kindergarten Adventure

                                “I’m ready for school !”
                                                                           a              C
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                                         I’m          g
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                                        th! I
                                              ’m goin

                fo                      !”
                           indergar ten
L        aunching into an Adventure!
Starting kindergarten is an exciting adventure for kids
and families. It is a new beginning for learning, developing
friendships, confidence and independence.

However, it is typical and normal for both children and par-
ents to feel anxious about starting kindergarten as well.

Children are often anxious about what it will be like to go to
the “big kid’s” school.

•   Who is my teacher?
•   Will the other kids be my friend?

As parents, we often have concerns too.

•   I won’t be able to protect my child all the time anymore!
•   Who will help him/her tie their shoes?
•   What happens if he/she is teased on the playground?
•   What if my child doesn’t understand the teacher?

It is important that our children are excited and proud on their
first day of school. We want them to walk through the class-
room door ready to take their place in the “big kids” school.

FIRST 5 Santa Clara County, in collaboration with the Santa
Clara County Partnership for School Readiness, is pleased
to provide this handbook to help parents and caregivers
prepare children for a successful launch into the kinder-
garten adventure!

Please refer to the end of the handbook for a listing of references and research that
supports the tips and recommendations found in this handbook.

                      “I’m ready for big kids school !”
                                                                  FIRST 5 Santa Clara County

What is Kindergarten Readiness?                                   What is the Right Age for Kindergarten?
Kindergarteners are still growing and developing. At age 5,       If your child turns 5 before December 2nd of the school year,
children have lots of energy! Some are focused on running         they are eligible to enroll in kindergarten.
and climbing in the playground. Others like to draw pic-
tures or play with blocks or toys.                                The youngest children will be 4 years 9 months old and there
                                                                  will be some children who are approaching their 6th birthday.
Very few children have all of the readiness skills when they
enter kindergarten. To be most successful, children               Some parents wonder if they should wait an extra year
will have a balance of skills in each of the four Building        before enrolling their child in kindergarten - especially if
Blocks of Kindergarten Readiness:                                 their child has a birthday that is in late summer or autumn.
                                                                  To help you decide what is right for your child:
Building Blocks of Kindergarten Readiness
                                                                  •   Compare your child’s skills with those outlined in the
•   Physical Well-Being and Motor Skills - Fuel for School            Building Blocks of Kindergarten Readiness found in this
•   Language Development - Use Your Words                             handbook
•   Early Academics - ABCs and 123s                               •   Talk to your child’s preschool teacher and your family
•   Social and Emotional Development - Sharing and Caring
                                                                  •    Visit the kindergarten where your child will be attending
While readiness is different for every child, getting ready           - Watch what the children are doing and imagine your
for school isn’t only for the children. Families need to be            child in that classroom
ready by:
                                                                  •   Talk to parents who have kindergarteners or children in
•   Preparing for new routines                                        elementary school
•   Planning for their role in supporting their child, teacher,   •   Trust your instincts
    classroom and school

This handbook will help you understand the Kindergarten
Readiness skills found in each of the Building Blocks and
provide you with tips to best prepare your child, and
yourself for a successful kindergarten adventure.

                                                               FIRST 5 Santa Clara County

Physical Well-Being and Motor Skills                           Tips for Parents
Fuel for School!
                                                               •   Provide a healthy breakfast such as eggs, toast, fruit
A good night’s sleep will help your child grow and be ready        and milk
to pay attention during the school day.
                                                               •   Enroll your child in preschool - Children who attend
Now is also a great time to reinforce healthy eating habits.       preschool are better prepared for kindergarten
Your child needs to have energy and be alert for school.       •   Set a schedule that includes early bedtime
Focus on healthy choices for breakfast and school lunches
                                                               •   Stick with a routine - Children like to know what is
or snacks.
                                                                   expected and when
Make time for active play and exercise. Exercise will help     •   Go outside with your child, walk on a rail or straight line,
your child cope with the new structure and expectations            and climb on a jungle gym at the park
of school.
                                                               •   Turn off the TV and talk with your child
                                                               •   Visit your child’s pediatrician and dentist at least once
                                                                   a year
What does a ready child look like?
•   Your child is healthy - Immunizations are up to date
•   Your child has good oral health - Has visited his/her
•   Your child is well-rested
•   Your child can use crayons, pencils and paint brushes
•   Your child can button, zip, and tie or velcro shoes                         “I need 10-12 hours of sleep each night ! ”
•   Your child can kick balls, hop on one foot and climb a
    ladder at the park
•   Your child can use the toilet, eat, wash hands and blow
    nose all by him/herself

                                                              FIRST 5 Santa Clara County

Language                                                      Tips for Parents
Use Your Words!

Language skills are thinking skills. The more children hear   •   Read to your child for 10-15 minutes every day
words and practice using them, the better they will be at     •   Get a library card and visit the library weekly so you will
learning in school.                                               have lots of books to choose from
In kindergarten the teachers will use words to describe       •   Ask your child questions that make them describe things,
things, to think about math (bigger, smaller, add together,       events or feelings
subtract from) and to learn about ideas like telling time     •   Play story-telling games with your child
and rules in the classroom.
                                                              •   Play listening games - Hide a small object and then give
Family conversations during dinner, telling stories about         your child directions on how to find it
your day, playing imagination games with friends and read-    •   Be a language role-model for your child - Talk with your
ing books are all great ways to build language skills.            child about many different ideas so they learn new words
                                                              •   Listen carefully when your child is talking - Ask questions
                                                                  and show you care about what he/she is saying
What does a ready child look like?                            •   Try to speak clearly so your child can hear how the words
                                                                  are meant to sound
 •   Your child hears and understands the meaning of
     words, stories and songs                                 •   Be careful about how you use slang or swear words
 •   Your child uses words to talk about thoughts,
     wants and needs
 •   Your child speaks clearly enough so that other
     people understand
 •   Your child uses complete sentences and con-
     nects ideas together to make longer sentences

                                                                                  “School was fun today.
                                                                                                    My teacher is so nice ! ”

                                                               FIRST 5 Santa Clara County

Early Academics                                                Tips for Parents
ABCs and 123s!
                                                               •   See how many different patterns you can find in one day
Kindergarten is a year of much growth and development.             and think of different kinds of things that repeat them-
By the end of the school year children will be well on their       selves - Think about words in a song, stripes on your shirt,
way to reading and will be starting to write their own             breakfast, lunch and dinner
sentences. They will learn to tell time, add and subtract.     •   Play memory games that help children practice storing
                                                                   and organizing information - Draw five sets of matching
You can help your child to be a student by playing games.          pictures on separate pieces of paper, turn them face down
It is easy and fun to use games to learn about letters, num-       and mix them up - Have your child turn them over one by
bers, colors, shapes and solving problems.                         one to find the matching pairs
                                                               •   Look for shapes - The windows are rectangles, tracing a
                                                                   penny makes a circle
                                                               •   Sing songs and play rhyming games

What does a ready child look like?                             •   Keep pencils, crayons and paper where children can get
                                                                   to them easily
•   Your child knows the letters of the alphabet and can       •   Point out letters and numbers in everyday places like
    write his or her own first name                                cereal boxes, store signs and books
•   Your child counts 10 objects correctly - Please put        •   Help your child learn how to sort, match and compare -
    10 blocks in the basket                                        You can talk about colors, textures and sizes
•   Your child knows rhyming words - Pat, hat, cat, bat        •   Teach your child to count - How many places at the table,
•   Your child knows how to use a book - Knows where               how many steps to the bedroom
    to start, which way to turn pages and knows the pic-
    tures and printed words tell the story
•   Your child knows primary colors and shapes - Red,

    orange, green…circle, square, triangle

                                                                 FIRST 5 Santa Clara County

Social and Emotional Development                                 Tips for Parents
Sharing and Caring!
Children who can share their ideas and feelings are able to      •   Set a good example for your child - They will imitate
solve problems.                                                      what you do - If you speak with an “inside voice,” your
                                                                     child is learning to speak with one too
Being ready for school also means learning how to be
part of a group and follow a set routine.                        •   Help your child talk about his/her feelings and to imagine
                                                                     what others are feeling
Children may struggle with the new expectations for
                                                                 •   Set limits for your child - This is a sign of love which
behavior that teachers call “self-regulation” - the ability to
                                                                     your child will learn from, even if he/she may argue
control your own behavior and emotional responses.
                                                                     against them
Parents and teachers might notice extra tears, trouble           •   Make time for playing with friends - When children play
moving to the next activity when it is time, or following
                                                                     together, they learn to take turns, share and respect each
the classroom rules.
                                                                     others’ feelings
                                                                 •   Be predictable - Children have an easier time cooperating
                                                                     when they know what to expect
What does a ready child look like?                               •   Praise your child to help him/her feel good - Be gener-
                                                                     ous with your praise and complimenting his/her efforts and
•   Your child talks to adults and asks for help                     giving lots of hugs and smiles
•   Your child takes turns, shares and helps others              •   Help your child learn from mistakes - When things go
•   Your child tries new activities and asks questions               wrong, help them think about what to do better next time
•   Your child stays focused and pays attention for 10-15
    minutes at a time
•   Your child follows 1 and 2 step directions - Please
    put away your crayons and then bring me your paper
•   Your child listens and sits still for activities - Like
    reading a story in circle time
•   Your child works and plays both independently and
    in a group

                                                                   FIRST 5 Santa Clara County

Building Bridges for                                               Tips for Parents
English Language Learners
                                                                   •   Learning to speak English does not mean you have to give
When you register your child for school you will be asked
                                                                       up your home language - The ability to speak more than
to complete a home language survey. If you indicate that
                                                                       one language is an important skill
your child speaks a language other than English at home,
the school will evaluate your child’s English skills and will      •   Find out what your child will be doing in the classroom
help make sure that they have support until they become                - If they are going to be talking about animals, you
skilled in English.                                                    can read stories, or talk about animals at home in your
No matter what language your child speaks at home, use
                                                                   •   Learning a new language in kindergarten can be fun but
the parent tips from the Language Building Blocks to help
                                                                       it can also be tiring - Allow your child time each day to
build language skills. In any language, more words are
                                                                       relax, think and talk in your home language
better. Children will learn new languages quickly - es-
pecially if they already have strong speaking and listening        •   Don’t be surprised if your child mixes and matches words
skills in their home language.                                         from the 2 languages - It is part of the learning process
                                                                   •   Help your child understand that there could be other
Common Languages in Santa Clara County                                 children who also don’t speak English in their classroom

                                               Other Non-English

                                                               FIRST 5 Santa Clara County

Find a Buddy!                                                  What Readiness Skills do Santa Clara
Try to find your child a “buddy” who speaks your home
                                                               County Teachers find Most Important?
language and English - this may be an older child or a
                                                               The Partnership for School Readiness took a look at Santa
friend. It can be especially helpful if your child can learn
                                                               Clara County kindergarteners to determine if our children are
some of the English words used in common playground
                                                               ready for school. The results of the review tell us that most
games, such as jumping rope or playing tag.
                                                               children in our county meet most of the expectations that
                                                               teachers look for. Some children however, need extra help in
                                                               language and social emotional development.

Be a Buddy!                                                    According to the teachers the following are the most
                                                               important skills:

In Santa Clara County, almost half of all kindergarteners      •   Your child can use the toilet, dress, wash hands, eat and
are English Language Learners. If your child is a strong           blow nose by themselves
English speaker, encourage him or her to be a Language         •   Your child stays focused and pays attention for 10-15
Buddy for a child who is just learning.                            minutes at a time
                                                               •   Your child asks for help when he/she needs it
Your child can learn a new language! Language Buddies          •   Your child can hold a pencil, use a crayon and cut with
can help make learning fun by showing that kids can have           scissors
many friends that speak different languages. They will
also learn about children and families from other cultures.    You may be surprised not to see early academic skills on the
                                                               above list.

                                                               When a child can take care of their personal needs and
                                                               pay attention in the classroom, they are ready to be
                                                               taught other skills.

                                                               FIRST 5 Santa Clara County

Are you Worried your Child is Not                              Talk to your Child’s Doctor if you see a
Ready?                                                         Few of the Following Behaviors*:
Remember, that readiness looks different for each child.       •   Frequent temper tantrums
However, you know your child better than anyone. Parents       •   Difficulty with normal changes in routine or when moving
are usually the first to suspect that a child is struggling.       from play time to quiet time
Speak with your child’s preschool teacher. There may be        •   Overly aggressive behavior with other children - Or seems
simple things that you can work on at home to help.                very withdrawn

If you still feel like your child’s development is very        •   Restless behavior compared to the other children and is
different from other children the same age, make a list            easily distracted
of your concerns and visit your child’s doctor.                •   Difficulty holding a crayon or pencil or copying basic
                                                               •   Trouble hearing or understanding when others are talking
                                                               •   Difficulty remembering sequences such as numbers,
                                                                   alphabet or days of the week
                                                               •   A very small vocabulary - Doesn’t remember new words
                                                               •   Difficulty pronouncing simple words - People outside your
                                                                   family have difficulty understanding your child

                                                               *Remember, many children have some of these behaviors.
                                                               Watch to see if they happen all the time, or if there are
                                                               specific situations where they are more likely to occur.

                                                       FIRST 5 Santa Clara County

Countdown to Kindergarten Calendar                     For Safety, your Child should Know…

                                                       •   First and last name
January     Find out about kindergarten registration
            and enroll your child                      •   Full names of parents and childcare provider
February    Make reading a priority                    •   Phone number and address

March       Vaccinate before it is too late            •   Who will be picking him/her up after school
                                                       •   Whether she/he has any food allergies and what food
April       Practice basic skills – Holding crayons,       restrictions are required
            using scissors, counting, etc.
                                                       •   To walk away and find an adult she/he knows if
May         Give your child the chance to make             approached by strangers
            decisions and smart choices
                                                       •   How to find the classroom, bathroom, and the school
June        Talk to your child about what a typical        office
            school day will look like

July        Set a schedule at home including early     California Requires Checkups
            bedtime and healthy meals
                                                       Before you can register your child for school you will need to
August      Visit the school and meet the teacher -
                                                       show that your child has recently had a:
            Shop together for school supplies
                                                       •   Dental check-up
                                                       •   Health check-up
                                                       •   Tuberculosis skin test
                                                       •   Up-to-date immunizations for Polio, DPT (Diphtheria,
                                                           Pertussis, Tetanus), MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella),
                                                           Hepatitis B and Chicken Pox

                                                                FIRST 5 Santa Clara County

School Has Begun - Now What?                                    Tips for Parents
                                                                •   Introduce yourself to your child’s teacher and talk with
Remember, helping your child enter school prepared and              him/her often
ready is just the beginning of the adventure!                   •   Ask the teacher how your child is doing and how you can
Parents play a key role in the ongoing success of your child
at school.                                                      •   Visit the classroom regularly to observe your child in the
                                                                    classroom setting
Let your child know that you have high expectations for their   •   Help out in the classroom, at activities and on field trips
                                                                •   Get to know the other kids and parents in your child’s
Participate in your child’s education.                              class
                                                                •   Establish a daily homework routine, assist with homework
Education is a partnership between parents, teachers and the        and review with your child
                                                                •   Ask your child questions about their day that require more
                                                                    than a yes or no answer - What did you talk about during
                                                                    circle time?
                                                                •   Read to and with your child each day
                                                                •   Know if you child has special needs and learn about the
                                                                    services available
                                                                •   Get involved! Attend school events, parent-teacher
                                                                    conferences and participate in fundraisers                         School
                                                                •   Read notes from teachers, complete all paperwork
                                                                    required of parents and return promptly to the school
                                                                •   Enforce the rules of the classroom and school - If there is
                                                                    a rule you don’t understand, ask the teacher about it
                                                                •   Don’t forget the important Fuel for School: healthy food
                                                                    and early bedtimes

                                                             FIRST 5 Santa Clara County

KIndeRgARTen enRollMenT                                      Maternal and Child Health Services
                                                             P: 800.310.2332
Visit for enrollment dates by district.
Call your local school district or visit to    denTAl CARe
find your school district – Be sure to check enrollment
requirements.                                                Santa Clara County dental Society Referral line
                                                             P: 408.289.1480

PARenT ReSoURCeS WeBSITe                                     Health Mobile
FIRST 5 Santa Clara County                                           SPeCIAl needS CHIldRen SeRVICeS

ArtsopolisKids                                               early Start – County office of education                            P: 800.404.5900

2-1-1 Santa Clara County                                     San Andreas Regional Center
Dial 211 for Community Services                              P: 408.374.9960                                               KidConnections/KidScope
                                                             P: 408.793.5959

HeAlTH CARe In SAnTA ClARA CoUnTy                            Parents Helping Parents
                                                             P: 408.727.5775
Children’s Health Initiative                       
Free/low-cost Health Insurance                               Inclusion Collaborative
P: 888.244.5222                                              P: 408.453.6756
Medi-Cal – County of Santa Clara Social Services Agency
Assistance Application Center
P: 408.271.5600

                                                FIRST 5 Santa Clara County

                                                CHIldCARe FIndeR

                                                Community Child Care Council (4 Cs)
CoUnTy oF SAnTA ClARA SeRVICeS                  P: 408.487.0747
Parents Place                                   Choices for Children
P: 650.688.3021                                 P: 408.297.3295 ext. 244            
Mental Health department                        Professional Association for Childhood education
P: 800.704.0900
                                                Alternative Payment (PACeAPP)                                  P: 408.278.1214
Alcohol and drug Screening Information and
P: 800.488.9919                                 eMeRgenCy nUMBeRS
                                                emergency-dial 911
Child Protective Services/Child Abuse Hotline   P: 800.704.0900
P: 408.299.2071
                                                The California Poison Control System
                                                P: 800.222.1222
County of Santa Clara                           Suicide and Crisis Center
P: 408.293.2326                                 P: 408.279.3312           
City of San Jose                                Parental Stress Hotline
P: 408.808.2000                                 P: 408.279.8228
                                                Support network for Battered Women
Silicon Valley library System                   P: 800.572.2782                    

                                                                FIRST 5 Santa Clara County

                                                                Santa Clara County Partnership for School Readiness
                                                                Definition of School Readiness 2002
                                                                Kindergarten Observation Form
                                                                Are Children Ready for School? Assessment of Kindergarten
national Public Radio                                           Readiness in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties 2005
February 21, 2008 Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills,     How to Support School Readiness & Success of Children,
Alix Spiegel                                                    Families & Schools, September 2007
March 31, 2008 Creative Play Makes for Kids in Control – Alix   Reasons Why One School “Beats the Odds” in Santa Clara
Spiegel                                                         County, November 2007
                                                                School Readiness in Santa Clara County: Results of the 2006
California department of education
                                                                Assessment and a Summary of Three-Year Trends, 2007
Reasons for Concern
                                                                Does Readiness Matter? How Kindergarten Readiness Trans-
California State Board of education                             lates into Academic Success, April 2008
California Content Standards and Indicators: Kindergarten
                                                                Milpitas Unified School district
national education Association                                  Kindergarten Handbook for Parents, 2008-05-06
                                                                Brownwell, Kopp
Michigan department of education                                Socioemotional Development in the Toddler Years,
What Research Says About Parent Involvement in Children’s       The Guildford Press, New York, 2007
Education; March 2002
                                                                California department of education, Preschool english
Children’s Advocate                                             learners                                               Principles and Practices to Promote Language, Literacy and
                                                                Learning, Sacramento 2007
Foundation for Child development Policy Brief Advancing
PK-3 No. Eight, January 2008, Linda M. Espinosa, Challeng-      American Academy of Pediatrics
ing Common Myths About Young English Language Learners          The Wonder Years Bantam Books, New York, 2006

California department of education 2005                         national Center for learning disabilities
Desired Results Developmental Profile – Revised DRDP-R, Learning Disabilities Checklist
                                                                Response to Intervention network
get Ready To Read                                     
                                                                United States department of education
                                                                Helping Your Child Become a Reader

All rights reserved © 2008
Printed June 2008
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