Preparing your child for Kindergarten

It's one of the most important aspects to making sure your little one grows up happy, healthy,
and ready to learn - preparing for kindergarten.

"This is their foundation. Because from birth to five years old is where they're going to get the foundation to learn everything they're going to learn, or do anything for the rest of their lives."

Pamela Jones is the Instructor Director of Early Childhood Education at the Jefferson Davis campus of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.  She and her staff are dedicated to making sure children are ready for Kindergarten. They do so by focusing on the developmental skills necessary for success, things like recognizing shapes, sizes, numbers, and how to write your name - even how to hold a pencil.

"Because if they've never been in that early setting to know how to hold a pencil, how are they even expected to know how to write their name when they get there," explained Jones.  "So we focus on those very simple, very basic skills that they need to succeed."

Like other early education centers, the facility at MGCCC's Jeff Davis campus uses a developmental checklist to make sure children are meeting certain benchmarks, everything from vocabulary and language skills, to math and science.

Jones added, "Social / emotional is also part of the checklist to make sure they're getting everything they need socially. And how they deal with problems or behaviors or if they're encouragers."

Enrolling children in preschool is an effective way to introduce them to social settings - a must-have for a smooth transition into Kindergarten.

Jones says parents have an important role at home, too.

"Help them with their numbers, help them write their names so they're not totally lost. If they can't write their names, start getting them ready by cutting paper and playing with beads so they can count by putting a number with an actual number. Pretty much, they're going to get it. They may not get it right away, but they will get it when they're developmentally ready to get it."

All three early education childcare facilities at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College campuses in Perk, Gautier and Gulfport are five star centers. That means they have been awarded the highest rating possible from the state's quality rating system. And they are the only five star rated childcare centers on the coast.

One more note for parents with little ones about to enter kindergarten: Biloxi's Excel by Five is hosting a free "Countdown to Kindergarten" readiness fair Thursday, April 24th at Lopez School on St. John Avenue. It's a great opportunity to introduce your child to the school setting because it allows them to board a school bus, walk through a cafeteria line, visit a classroom, and test those vital developmental skills. For more information you can call Susan Hunt at (228) 297-6808.

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