Get your preschooler off to a great start

Cheri M. Gioe  |  7/11/2008 1:12:51 AM

Back-to-School News Distributed 07/11/08

Is your child ready for preschool? In Louisiana a child must turn 4 years old by September 30 to be eligible for preschool services. Preschool in Louisiana is not mandatory; it’s an option.

“Child development research tells us that children develop at their own rate,” said LSU AgCenter early childhood education expert Cheri Gioe. “This means that some children may be stronger in one area of development than others their age group.”

The youth development educator said that many aspects of a child’s development contribute to future success in school:

– Children should be well-rounded socially, emotionally, cognitively and physically.

– Children should be healthy. They need regular medical care for checkups and immunizations.

– Young children need proper nutrition that includes fruits, vegetables and dairy products.

– Children need to sleep a minimum of 10–12 hours per night and nap during the day.

– Young children need periods of outdoor play that is supervised by an adult.

“Today’s young children are often excited, even motivated about starting preschool,” Gioe said. She noted that children entering preschool should be able to work in a group and get along with adults and other children. Children who are confident, independent and persistent and demonstrate self-control and the ability to cooperate typically are more successful than those who don’t exhibit these characteristics.

“Young children entering preschool must be able to understand and use language,” Gioe said. Preschoolers will be involved in many activities that require the use of language in many different ways. To foster language development, Gioe said, parents should play with their children and help their children extend their play. They also should spend time talking and listening with their children daily.

“Remember to answer the questions they have because this helps broaden their knowledge base,” Gioe said, adding, “Spend time reading aloud with your child daily.”

The early youth development expert said behaviors a parent can teach and look for in a child in preparation for preschool include: can follow simple directions; helps around the house with chores; identifies shapes and colors; likes to sort items such as colored socks, shirts, pants, utensils; tries new things; works well alone; and finishes tasks.

For related family topics, visit the family and home link at the LSU AgCenter Web site at www.lsuagcenter.com. For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.

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On the Internet: LSU AgCenter: www.lsuagcenter.com
Contact: Cheri Gioe at (225) 578-3329 or cgioe@agcenter.lsu.edu
Editor: Mark Claesgens at (225) 578-2939 or mclaesgens@agcenter.lsu.edu

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