Educators and researchers agree on a set of 10 skills children need before starting kindergarten.
This is the skills list handed out by the Urban Child Institute (a leader in data and research center):
*Know his first and last name, and parent's name
*Recognize letters (both lowercase and uppercase) and numbers (up to 10)
*Know basic colors and shapes
*Use the bathroom independently, dress and undress, and wash hands.
*Solve problems without hitting, biting, or yelling
*Follow instructions from teachers and parents
*Communicate wants and needs (like hunger, pain, happiness) through words
*Be able to be apart from his parents during the school day
*Sit quietly for short periods of time
*Show curiosity and enthusiasm for activities like story or art time
Your child should know all ten of these vital learning tools before starting school and must come from their first teacher, usually parents.
Beverly Fletcher read her first book at 61 years old. "I cried and cried, so happy, called my husband." She never learned to read proficiently in grade school. Literacy Mid-South helped her change that, starting when she was 59.
8 year old Trinity Cannon read her first book last year. She is a second grader who reads on a fifth grade level. "Some books have facts, so you can learn some things, school, home, that you have never known before."
"It's not my fault I didn't learn to read. It's my parents fault; the man and woman that raised me," says Fletcher. If you ask experts, in part, she's right because every child's first teacher is the one they see every day before they can walk or talk, before they ever go to a classroom.
Now a grandma and retired small business owner, Fletcher couldn't read, but couldn't stand the idea of her children not reading. She got creative. "My kids learned to read because you know, cassette tapes. Turn the page, it would read it to them."
Trinity and her three siblings are advanced readers. "Just trying not to be a statistic." Her mom Latasha and dad Terrell say they follow simple habits before kindergarten.
1) Start with small words and repeat over and over. Latasha Coleman, a parent, says "I started with teaching them two letter words, worked up from there, he, to, it."
2) They read to them every night. "When my child was in the womb I was reading to her.
3) And, they labeled most items in the house: ceiling fan, trash can, remote control, television, lamp. "Once they see the word microwave, it's easier to understand." "Don't put fridge, on refrigerator, spell it out, re-fridg-er-ator, sound it out, let them see it," says Fletcher.
What about the parents who work all day, use two modes of transportation to get home, to hungry kids to feed when get home. The experts say it can still be done, reading to kids, and it must be done. "You almost hit our life altogether. Yeah, we have four, there's no excuse, that's why we put labels up. That's something you start from the beginning. You can't just up and say when they get in the sixth grade, I'm gonna take this responsibility. No, it's too late."