'Lunch & Learn' helps preschool parents ready their kids

Kim Leary, master teacher at School 1, conducted her first monthly “Lunch & Learn” session recently for parents who have children in the preschool. Working to ensure that the kids get what they need, Leary also is charged with serving as an instructional coach to the staff.

Ready Rosie is the communication tool that the school utilizes for communication for teachers and family. It’s important that parents familiarize themselves with the system and take time to view all the helpful resources available.

The 3- and 4-year-old preschool students at School 1, both in-person and virtual, are all settling in. The nervousness from the beginning of the year is gone, Leary noted.

The goal of the Lunch & Learn was the importance of preschool and helping your child be ready for the challenges. Leary said that familiar routines at home and school will help build strong health and habits for a student.

There are four main building blocks for preschool students, Leary detailed. All four are interconnected and children develop each on different paces.

Health & self care

This is the foundation for everything else. Children need to fuel and care for their bodies so they have energy and focus, and feel their best. Leary noted that it's imperative that preschool students get 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night, eat healthy food, be able to do basic dressing, use the bathroom independently, and be able to say their full name and age.

Routines are extremely important for this age. Parents can create and use a Velcro board with visuals so activities become habit, such as brushing teeth and getting dressed. A visual board shows them clear expectations and keeps them engaged. “We use routines for everything we do at school,” Leary said.

Gross & fine motor development

Both at school and home, children need to use and develop the use of small and large muscles. Activities to develop small muscles include buttoning, zipping, using scissors, using a pencil, and coloring. Running, jumping and other physical activities develop large muscles. Parents can help their child practice at home with the videos posted on Ready Rosie. Leary asked the parents to draw a smiley face with their non- dominant hand to show them how awkward it feels for their child to learn to draw. She said to give them lots of opportunity to practice and develop at home.

Social emotional development

This is a tough area for these little ones, Leary said, to learn how to control their emotions. Parents can help them learn that and how to handle conflicts. Being in school with others will also help them develop those skills. Preschool students need to play with other kids and learn to make friends. Parents can also help children understand expectations by using something like a sand timer to demonstrate time. This helps them take ownership and be ready.

Cognitive development

Preschool students are learning right now how they think, remember, solve problems and make decisions. While they are learning about this in school, parents can help in a number of ways. To help their reading readiness, parents can use flash cards or other methods to help them recognizing letters. Help them understand how printed words have meaning by running your finger along as you read to them. Parents can also play rhyming games. You can play a game with your purse. Say peas and then they find keys. Say honey and they find money. Parents can help their child with math games as well. Ask them to take five tiny steps, then five enormous steps.

“We move them along from wherever they are,” Leary said of the staff at School 1. “We support and build on their strengths.” Leary encouraged parents to reach out to her anytime by emailing kleary@wpschools.org.