Preparing a child to enter kindergarten involves much more than just learning their ABCs, shapes, colors and numbers. For many children, kindergarten is their first experience in a formal school setting. Suddenly they are confronted with unfamiliar expectations, tasks and social situations. It can be a scary transition for any child, especially children who have not already experienced pre-school.
Cuyahoga County Public Library's (CCPL) Kindergarten Club program helps prepare children who did not attend pre-school with the skills needed to be ready for their first year of school. Kindergarten Club engages children's parents and caregivers, and connects them with a variety of kindergarten readiness resources and information to help them prepare their child for a successful transition. The fact is, many parents underestimate or are simply unaware of the learning that students are expected to possess BEFORE entering kindergarten – social, language, reading, mathematics, writing, reasoning, concept development and motor skills. The list is long. The program is designed to reinforce learning between a parent and a student, and last year, Kindergarten Club parents increased time spent reading to their children by 36% since the start of the program.
Kindergarten Club helps parents and caregivers by equipping them with the knowledge they need to help guide their children into kindergarten ready to learn. The program also familiarizes families with their school's policies, procedures, screenings, schedules, and any special services that may benefit their child. Each Kindergarten Club session ends with a learning activity families can do together at home to further prepare their child for kindergarten. Each family also receives a free book at the end of each program to promote learning at home.
Another great way to help prepare children for a successful transition to kindergarten is attending library storytimes. Even children who have plenty of books at home can benefit from library storytime. It's important for children to hear another adult read to them and watch other children get engaged in a story. Library storytimes also expose children to a wider variety of authors and writing styles than they are likely to get at home. At home, it's totally fine for a child to flip through the pages of a book, or ask to have the same book read over and over, or to quit reading one book halfway through and switch to another one. But in a storytime setting, they must learn to sit still, be respectful to others and listen to a book someone else has chosen.
Storytimes can benefit parents and caregivers too. Librarians model reading skills parents and caregivers can follow, like pointing to words as you read them, asking children questions about what they see on the page and letting them predict what comes next in the story. They're also free, convenient family activities that don't require much advance planning.
Funded by the Cleveland Browns Foundation and other donors, the Kindergarten Club program is offered at various branches of Cuyahoga County Public Library. Enrollment is open to any family that does not have their child enrolled in a pre-school program. The Cleveland Browns Foundation continues to support education and youth development initiatives, including Kindergarten Club, in Northeast Ohio to ensure the success of Cleveland's youth.