RAPID CITY, S.D. — From the moment they’re born, children are learning – through experiences, exploration, interactions and attention. Research shows that children who experience quality care and education are better prepared for school and throughout their lives.
Darbi Hunt, birth to five Learning Specialist with South Dakota Statewide Family Engagement Center
, says, “The more we know, the more we understand the importance of those experiences that our children have starting at birth until they go to school so much of their mind is growing and developing and forming in that time. The more we can do to get their brains ready for school- the more successful they are going to be.”
Developmental indicators are specific statements of expectations for children’s learning at their age level. Screenings review aspects like social/emotional learning, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, communication, math and literacy skills.
They serve as a way to gauge if children are ready for school and if they going need some support services.
Hunt says, “And if on that screening, there are some things that can be identified that could be serious potential trouble areas then the school would probably want to have those things further evaluated .”
But Hunt says if your child can not complete all the items on the list, not to worry, the professionals are looking at the general whole child at a developmental level, it’s not a test of pass or fail. It’s a basic process to screen for potential education road blocks and parents can then get an idea of things to work on with their students over the summer months.
Hunt says it should also be a fun experience for the child, a chance to meet teachers and tour the school and help make them more comfortable.
“It’s so important that our little ones get off to a good start because this kindergarten experience can shape a lot of their perceptions and their ideas about learning and about themselves. It isn’t a a make or break situation but it is one of those pretty important steps,” says Hunt.
To parents, Hunt says to embrace the journey – be positive about the transition, look for opportunities to expose child to the school experience, read books about kindergarten and get into healthy routines including bed time and healthy breakfast. She says that the parent or caretaker is the advocate for the child to support their education.
If you miss the screening or aren’t having one, make sure to get you child registered for kindergarten and attend an open house if the school is hosting one.
to sign up to receive Kindergarten Readiness Cards.
Another great resource is South Dakota Step Ahead
for ways to work on strategies to better prepare students for school.
If you are unsure if your child is ready for kindergarten, Hunt says to discuss the issue with their preschool teacher or pediatrician to help make a decision.
Hunt also mentioned that Kindergarten can take a lot out of child so help to make it an easy transition for the first couple of weeks of school. In preparation for kindergarten, Hunt says a helpful tip is to ween children off of afternoon naps at the beginning of summer.
There are other screening options for children birth to five. Click here
for more information on RCAS Childfind.
Developmental screenings for children ages three through five are March 8 and 9 this month. Parents can call (605) 394-1813 for an appointment.
As was the case in 2020, RCAS will not do a kindergarten screening in 2021 due to COVID-19.