Headmaster’s Blog – Thoughts from the Head What can parents do to encourage school readiness in their children? Just this week, my family returned from a two-week whirlwind tour of colleges in the Boston and St. Louis areas with my daughter who will be a senior next year. While that time is far away for many parents, I’m finding it arrives sooner than you think! In addition to marveling in what was to come for her, I found myself also thinking about her journey to this point – all of the milestones that seemed to be marked by “First Days…” First Day of Kindergarten. First Day of Middle School, High School. First Day at her First Job… These musings about beginnings lead me to look into available podcasts on early childhood education. I ran into a wonderful podcast called “The Early Childhood Research Podcast.” Created by “Liz,” a veteran teacher overseas with a passion for early childhood research, the podcast’s episodes range from “Does Movement Improve learning Outcomes?” (the answer is a definitive “Yes!”) to “Dyslexia and Early Intervention.” Fascinated, I made the logical decision (sort of) to start with Episode #13, “School Readiness for Children, Families, Teachers and Schools.” I would encourage everyone to take a listen. While there are plenty of anecdotes, everything she shares is supported by research. One topic covered included suggestions for parents on how to encourage school readiness in their children. Here they are… Encourage language development – There’s tons of research on the positive effect of exposing our kiddos to lots of words – in conversation, in reading to them, in teaching them songs. Develop fine and gross motor skills – At all ages, we need to get our kiddos outside to run and jump and fall down (and get back up again). While inside, encourage them to draw or finger paint and build with different materials (and tear down so they can build again). Not only does this create new connections in their developing brain, it also strengthens hand muscles. Develop healthy emotional and social responses – Have friends over, let them play and to learn to deal with disappointment or arguments in constructive, independent ways. Connect your child to your community – The great takeaway here was to broaden your child’s experiences with other adults – at pools, libraries, church, in volunteer opportunities. “Liz” was spot-on throughout…she was probably most poignant in her message on supporting moms. I picked up the phone immediately to thank my mom for all she did for me growing up. Certainly, I’m looking forward to listening to more of her podcasts. If you are interested, you can find her on the web at www.lizs-early-learning-spot.com.