Your little four, five or six-year-old is getting ready for Kindergarten, but are they ready? You are about to send him or her off to a group of miniature strangers and a teacher who will attempt to instruct your child after meeting for the first time at the opening of a classroom door. Before that big yellow school bus pulls up for the first time to whisk your child away, be prepared. A local private Parent Teacher Advocate offers five tips for parents of children entering Kindergarten with advice that goes beyond learning how to properly hold scissors. 
Peggy Welker, MSW
Private Parent Teacher Advocate
St. Louis, MO 63146
(314) 496-8197
www.linkedin.com/Peggy-Welker

Peggy Welker, MSW, is a parent-teacher advocate and cheerleader. At least, that’s what is on her business card as she lives in the thick of real-life challenges that include raising a daughter with multiple disabilities, including autism and 16 other labels. However, Peggy knows that these labels do not define who her daughter is, and through learning to advocate for her own child she now shares her knowledge with others. With first-hand experience and a Masters degree, she advocates privately for parents dealing with IEP issues and shares some Kindergarten prep advice for you.

Sit Your Child In Your Lap And Read To Him or Her

Holding your child in your lap and reading communicates love. You love your child, you love learning, and you love reading. When your child is little, life is so busy. It’s so easy to feel as if these little things are just not important. However, sacrificing your time to spend 20 minutes with your little one is priceless. You have a squirmy toddler, you say? That’s OK. Read to them for 15 minutes while they sit in a bathtub full of water. Read to them as they jump on a trampoline. 

Know Your Child Deeply

What does your child like, and what are they good at doing? Is your child bossy? He may be the making of a great leader. Is your child sensitive? She may be a future counselor who needs to be nurtured properly. Countless stories of 5th graders or middle schoolers say to their mothers, “I’m just bad,” or “I’m just “dumb” because teachers have framed their challenging behaviors or challenging academics, such as dyslexia, into a negative message. You are your child’s first and lifelong cheerleader, champion and advocate now, from the beginning of their school years.

Get What Your Child Needs, Regardless Of The Label

Does your child have a special need or a learning disability? Step in and help your child get what he or she needs from the start. Have a meeting with the principal, the nurse and your child. No matter what, your child should feel respected and emotionally safe. Figure out what you want and then ask the school how they are going to work at meeting your child’s needs in this area. You are the parent. Today’s public school system does not always align with a family’s values, but remember that it’s OK to say no as long as it’s done properly.

Related: Ask A St. Louis Expert: After-School Activity Ideas

Love Your Child Enough To Have High, But Attainable, Standards

When a teacher says, “Oh, your child can’t do that work, that’s too hard for him,” you are there to say, “I know my child. She can do this and now we are going to make her feel successful.” For instance, when your child is taking three hours to do math because there are far too many problems, go to the teacher to get the number of problems reduced and if that doesn’t work, go to the principal. If that doesn’t work, move up the chain of command. Your child’s belief that they can reach high standards, is an important foundation piece of their future success.

As Much As It Depends On You, Be Aware Of The Academics, Friends, The School Setting And The Heart Of Your Child

When your child is an infant, up to five years old, you knew how often they ate and when they pooped. It is easy to think that the school has got this, but this has played out with well-intention parents to end with devastating results. Start early, and check often. They are your children, not the school’s. You always know best. Trust your gut.

Related: Ask A St. Louis Expert: 5 Top Snow Day Activities

Tere Scott is a freelance writer and author of e-books and two educational blogs. She loves to research information to share. She currently resides in St. Louis. Her work can be found at PuddleJumping.

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