By Nancy Gutierrez

Kindergartners don't learn just their ABC's anymore.

They learn how to put letters together to spell as well as to read. They have class projects and a classroom culture. Kindergartners are constantly working, but for students who have never been exposed to a classroom situation the change from home to class can be a difficult one. For those children who are not developing as quickly as others it is even harder.

At Lincoln Elementary School parents who think their child could benefit from an introduction to school or who think their child may have speech or language delays or simply are somewhat immature for school can enroll their child in the pre-kindergarten program. Usually the children are invited to participate in the program after testing -- done at the Kindergarten Round-up which occurs in June -- suggests that the child can benefit from an introduction to kindergarten.

For two weeks in July soon-to-be kindergartners attended class at Lincoln from 8 to 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday.

Haxton said slow development in kids is normal and the two week program helps give the child a head-start.

"They become familiar with school rules, routines, even sitting in a circle," said Anne Haxton, Exeter Union Elementary School Speech Pathologist. "It seems to help many of the children."

During class students learn color recognition, matching and begin working on writing skills. Haxton said some of the students are not ready to write or lack the fine motor skills that allow them to write without trouble.

"There are a lot of developmental milestones they have to go through before a child has the stability to hold a pencil, keep their arm still and write by just moving their wrist," Haxton said. "We will typically see those kindergartners who don't have body stability."

Signs of a child with underdeveloped body stability include, wanting to lie down a lot and lying their upper torso on a table when trying to color. At the pre-kindergarten program, teacher Andrea Sigmond, helps teach students activities that help them to listen and be attentive. There are also kindergarten readiness activities including cutting, writing and pre-reading activities.

Haxton said the program has been around for several years and though they have not monitored students into their high school years, Haxton said many elementary school teachers have said students who have taken pre-kindergarten stand-out among children who hadn't and were just learning how to behave in school. There is also a preschool program during the school year for children 3 and older. The classes are from 3:30-5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Recent studies show children who attend preschool are more likely to do better in high school and attend college.

"The program involves parent and child participation, but a sibling or grandparent can attend," said Haxton. "We try to show the parent how they can help their child's language and speech develop with activities that they can do at home."

Haxton said there are a list of things parents can do at home to reinforce activities learned in school.

  • Read to your child every day

  • Ask children questions about the stories they heard

  • Have crayons and paper always available

  • Have quiet times

  • Use proper language with the child. If the child makes an error do not simply correct, but repeat what was said the proper way

  • Play back and forth games with children, like tossing or rolling a ball.

  • Prepare children for writing by creating games that involve pining clothespins on a wire or can, or dropping them into a bucket. The preschool program begins Aug. 31. To find out more information about the pre-kindergarten or preschool programs contact Haxton at 592-2141.

  • Start typing and press Enter to search