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Fauquier Hospital Presents - “Ready for School? Pediatrician Gives Tips for First-Timers & Parents”

Ready for School? Pediatrician Gives Tips for First-Timers -- and Their Parents

Almost every parent asks the same question as their child leaves toddlerhood and enters the preschool stage of development. “Is my child ready for school?”

Pediatrician Cheryl Kemerer, M.D., will answer this question in a lecture on Wednesday, August 6, at 7 p.m. in Fauquier Hospital’s Sycamore Room.

Dr. Kemerer recognizes the difficulty that parents face, but assures, “School readiness does not depend on chronologic age or a single developmental factor. It is better defined as ‘the extent to which a child exhibits behaviors, skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in school.’ ” She says that while preschool offers the chance for play in a structured environment, kindergarten is more academic. It’s where children begin developing the memory, organizational skills and social interaction to start the process of learning in a school setting. Success in either setting depends on developmental readiness -- emotional, social, physical and cognitive.

Helping a child prepare for the school experience starts years before the first school bell. Dr. Kemerer says, “Parents are a child’s first teachers, but that doesn’t mean you need to invest in workbooks or flashcards. Look for everyday ways to teach and reinforce letters, shapes, colors, numbers, etc.” One of the most important activities that parents can foster is reading. She says, “Read to them! A lot! Reading exposes a child to a large vocabulary that will enhance ease of learning to read. Encourage them to ‘read pictures’ to you by having them tell a story about the pictures. And take advantage of story times at local libraries – it not only reinforces a love of books, but is a great place to learn basic rules of attention and to practice interacting with other kids.”

Dr. Kemerer says that limiting screen time to two hours a day leaves more time for exploration and physical play. “While providing opportunities for exploration in different settings, such as nature, zoos, museums, even grocery stores, respect and foster curiosity by answering questions and posing questions to your child to stimulate thought. And providing a variety of materials (pencils, pens, markers, paint, pipe cleaners and beads, etc.) can help develop fine motor coordination.”

It’s easy to think that kindergarten is all about counting and alphabets, but it’s important to remember that your child will be learning vital social skills that he or she will build on all during their school-age years. As a parent, use the time leading up to kindergarten to increase your child’s feelings of responsibility -- teach them to pick up clothes, hang up their coat, put toys away and share in other household chores. Dr. Kemerer says, “Whatever they can do for themselves, have them do it. Allow children to try to come up with solutions to problems on their own before jumping in to help. It will develop practical skills and give them a sense of their own competency and self-reliance.”

By the time kids start kindergarten; they should have had some experience with making and playing congenially with friends. Play dates and group activities allow children to develop these important skills.

Those who would like to attend Dr. Kemerer’s August 6 lecture are asked to register by calling 540-316-3588 or go to www.fauquierhealth.org.

Fauquier Hospital
500 Hospital Drive
Warrenton, VA 20186


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