Tyler’s grandmother is quick to admit her oldest grandbaby is coddled, but when he struggled upon entering kindergarten last fall she was surprised. Denise has been caring for children for more than 20 years — first her own and now her grandchildren.
At first, Denise dismissed Tyler’s uneasiness with school. She assumed he would adjust to the change, make friends and learn to like kindergarten. She did her best to comfort and reassure him. When it lingered past the first few weeks, she met with his teacher after class.
Tyler’s teacher shared that he was shy with her and his classmates, and he didn’t like to participate in group activities. This surprised Denise, because Tyler was happy, talkative and interacted well with her and the other children she cared for. Tyler’s teacher also shared that he was behind some of the other students. While most of the students could write their names with minor errors, Tyler struggled to hold a pencil and make the fine motor motor movements required to form letters.
Kindergarten readiness can be difficult to gauge, and oftentimes parents aren’t aware their child is behind until they begin school. According to a 2015 Child Trends report, many children lack common pre-kindergarten skills.
- Thirty-eight percent of children are able to recognize all the letters of the alphabet.
- Sixty-eight percent of children can count to 20 or higher.
- Fifty-eight percent are able to write their names.
- Twenty-two percent are able to read words in a book.
Fortunately as a home-based child care provider, Denise had a relationship with TFC. Each month, a coach visited her program to offer advice, share supplies and demonstrate activities Denise could use to support the healthy development of the children in her care.
At a recent visit, Denise discussed Tyler’s struggles with her TFC coach. Denise’s coach shared tools, supplies and hands-on learning activities that could be used to improve Tyler’s literacy and fine motor skills. The TFC coach taught Denise new ways for Tyler to practice the alphabet and writing, like tracing letters with his finger. She also taught Denise exercises she could do with Tyler to improve his fine motor skills with common household items like pipe cleaners, rounded tooth picks, and plastic cups. The coach also offered advice for improving Tyler’s social skills. She told Denise to help Tyler think of words to use when entering conversations in the classroom.
Denise and Tyler have been working hard and the results are showing. With the tools, supplies and activities, Tyler has made impressive progress. He can now has the fine movements required to write his name, and is reading and recognizing many more words. The most significant improvement is his comfort in the classroom. Tyler is making friends and feeling much more comfortable with his new peers.