Is Your Child Ready for School?

 I speak with parents of preschoolers all the time. 

One of the questions that I hear very frequently is, “I want to send my child to preschool.  How do I know if he (or she) is ready?”

There are several key indicators we can look at that will help us answer that question.  You need to observe your child to see:


1. How well does he/she interact with others?

If you feel your child has not had enough opportunities to interact with others then START SMALL: arrange play-dates with neighbor children of a similar age and attend library story programs.  The summer before our youngest son was going to start kindergarten, we enrolled him in a three week nature class that was held every morning at a local nature center.  He had not attended preschool or daycare and we wanted to give him a chance to be in a “classroom” setting.  This worked out very well and he adjusted to kindergarten very well.


2. Has he/she been away from you?

If your child has not been away from you at all then

START SMALL: arrange to leave your child with a trusted friend or relative for an hour or so (take a walk around the block or a bubble bath) and enroll her in a library story hour or other local program.

3. How well does he/she transition from snack to play to story to craft to quiet time?

If your child has not had any experience with this or does not transition well then

START SMALL: during the day, let your child know you will be turning off the TV at the next commercial…tell him it will be naptime after the last page of the book is finished…find opportunities during the day to have your child transition from one activity to another.

4. Can your child’s speech be understood?

Your child should be able to speak in simple sentences of three to five words and be able to describe an activity or event that recently happened.  If you think there is a problem, then speak with your pediatrician.


5. Does your child follow directions?

If your child does not seem able to follow directions then

START SMALL: give your preschooler easy tasks to do…put the plates on the

dinner table, help fold the clean towels…when cleaning up the toys, ask your child to put the blue blocks away first or tell her to pick up the book and put it on the couch.

There are two other factors that may have an impact on whether your child is ready for preschool: potty training and age.

Many preschools require students to be potty-trained or almost there.  Your preschooler should also be able to put on and take off her shoes and coat, zip up her pants and wash her hands.

Regarding age, educators define preschool as the two years before kindergarten.  The age minimum differs in preschools…some want the child to be three by December of that academic year, while others will accept two year olds.


Whatever your decision is about sending your child to preschool, spending time with your child will result in life-long benefits…building self-esteem, developing pre-literacy skills and strengthening the parent-child bond.   Visit my website or Amazon to buy a copy of Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking.   This unique activity book/parenting resource/memory book will provide you with picture book summaries, easy crafts and healthful recipes…even an hour-by-hour schedule that will simplify your day.   Using Show Me How will definitely help you achieve your child’s school readiness goals.

In my next post, I’ll give some simple steps parents can take to get ready for the new school year…whether their children are toddlers or teenagers.

The Show Me How! School Initiative

Please don’t forget to leave a comment, nominating a school or other childcare facility you would like to receive a free copy of Show Me How!  We’ll be collecting nominations through the end of September…and will award a dozen books to schools across the country.  If you can spread the word via Twitter, Facebook or Pinterist, I would appreciate it.

Do you know a teacher who would benefit from having this award-winning book? 

Just leave a comment with the name of the school!

I’d also like to recommend another great resource for parents AND teachers…Kindergarten: Tattle-Tales, Tools, Tactics, Triumphs and Tasty Treats for Teachers and Parents  by Susan Case…I’ll be reviewing this book in the next couple of weeks.


Follow-Me-Fridays: Where’s Miss Vivian


Hugo Oehmichen Im Kindergarten

Image via Wikipedia

The sun was shining brightly as I walked into Howbert Elementary School yesterday morning.  Ms. Tindell’s kindergarten was buzzing with activity and the children were excited about the special story they had been promised.

Kindergarteners are an amazing breed of children…shy, friendly, talkative, quiet, happy, sad, easy to please, hard to satisfy…sometimes all of those in just one hour!

Some of the children had heard Leo the Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus before.  One child said he had a copy at his house.  All were eager to hear the story about a little tiger that can’t read, write, draw, eat neatly or talk.  When Leo’s father asks when his son will learn to do these things, Leo’s mother tells him to have patience. 


A dozen hands shot up when I asked if anyone knew the definition of the word “patience”.   Here are some of the answers they gave me…“When you have to wait for something.”, “If you can’t go out to play right now and have to wait for later.”, “Being patient.”

When the story was over, I asked the children if they remembered what Leo had learned and again, I was impressed with how attentively they had listened to the story.

Then I showed the children my sample of the daisy chain craft project we would be making and I explained how we would be decorating each strip of construction paper before we used a glue stick to form them into links of the chain.  It is really amazing to watch young children when you give them arts and crafts supplies!  There were strips with hearts, flowers, letters, dots, stripes…each child’s chain was a unique expression of his own creativity!


It was time for me to go to the kindergarten next door for the second presentation and while the children got their coats on to go outside for recess, I said goodbye to them…several rushed up to give me a special hug and tell me how much they loved the story and craft project.  There’s no need to ask why I love doing the Show-Me-How Story-time program!

After the second presentation, I still had one more task…a very pleasant one!  Observing the second story and craft program was a student from Coronado High School who had requested an interview with me as part of a job shadow program.  This wonderful young lady has hopes of becoming a children’s book illustrator and had many questions to ask me: how do you start to write and illustrate a book, what tools do you use, how long does it take, where and how do you get your book published?  I had brought along a copy of the original mock-up I did of The Balloon Man, a picture book for toddlers and preschoolers that teaches colors.


I also brought the professional illustrations that were done for the book by my talented daughter-in-law.  I know the Coronado High School student enjoyed reading the rhyming text and seeing how the illustrations helped bring the book to life.


Some of the advice I gave her: follow your dream, keep a portfolio of your best work, check online for blogs or websites of other picture book illustrators…many of them are extremely generous and I know she will find a wealth of valuable information on them.

By the way, there’s a new review of Show Me How! by Jenny of MyLittleMe.  This is the book I use for all of my school and library programs…open it up and you have the picture book summary, parenting tip and space to record your child’s highlights on the left side…and the EASY eco-friendly craft activity and QUICK child-friendly healthful recipe on the right side. Check out the review to find out why this book is a MUST-HAVE for parents, grandparents, preschool and kindergarten teachers, daycare providers, babysitters and nannies…virtually anyone who is involved in the care of children ages 2-7.  Pick up several copies at the 50% off price…ONLY $19.95 on my website or you can purchase it on Amazon.  Make it a unique holiday gift…I’ll be happy to sign and personally inscribe each brand-new copy!


Looking for a book that creates childhood magic?  This is it!” – Wendy Young, LMSW, BCD: Clinical Director and Family Therapist

Follow-Me-Fridays: Where’s Miss Vivian?

Hugo Oehmichen Im Kindergarten

Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday I walked into Bristol Elementary School…the halls are brightly decorated with the artistic efforts of the students.  The two kindergartens where I was to do my presentation are separated by another room which serves as an office for the two teachers and their assistants…what a great set-up!

The children were eager to hear the story of Cornelius P. Mud, Are You Ready For Bed? by Barney Saltzberg.  The teacher had introduced me as ‘Miss Vivian, who used to teach kindergarten many years ago and now she wrote a book about books and she is going to read to us today’.  I opened the picture book to the inner title page and began, “This is a story about a little pig named Cornelius who does some very silly things…Cornelius P. Mud, Are You Ready For Bed?”  I have to tell you how amazed I was when one of the boys asked, “And who is the author?”  Usually I do say the author’s name after I tell them the title…this time I didn’t, and it was great to hear such a question from a 5-year old. 🙂  After I told them the name of the author, the same child piped up, “And who drew the pictures?”  We talked a minute about the fact that in this particular book, the author was also the illustrator and then we read the story about the little pig getting ready for bed.  When Cornelius brushes his teeth with soap and a body brush, the kindergarteners laughed.  And when the little pig chooses a pile of TWENTY books as his bedtime story, the children knew that his father would NEVER read so many books at one time.  But when Cornelius feeds his fish CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES, one girl raised her hand and said, “If you feed your fish cookies, they will die because cookies have sugar and fish can’t eat things with sugar.”  I agreed and added that it was a good thing that this was just a story and that many stories are just “made up” and those events didn’t really happen.  “That’s because it’s fiction!” exclaimed another child.


I guess that is one of the things that I love most about young children…they are sponges for knowledge…what an opportunity parents and teachers have!  It is so important to spend those precious moments with little ones…just 15 minutes is all it takes to read a picture book story or do a simple arts and crafts project or prepare something together in the kitchen.  Those 15 minutes (or more if you have it) of “quality” time, participating positively with a child, leaves an impression that builds self-esteem, develops pre-literacy skills and creates a life-long parent-child bond.

After the story, I showed the children the No Tick-Tock Clock craft project and explained how we would proceed to make it.  I loved the way the teacher wrote the steps on the board as I spoke…using a simple picture (like a bottle of glue) and then a word (like glue)…to give the children a reference to follow as they worked on their clocks.  The children really enjoyed working on the simple craft project and were excited to be able to bring it home to show their parents and use it to help them know when it was time to get ready for bed.

If you are interested in getting a copy of a great resource that provides story suggestions, simple craft projects and easy healthful recipes, I hope you will take advantage of a very special sale going on right now to celebrate The Week Of The Young Child and to help enable young families to purchase a copy of SHOW ME HOW! BUILD YOUR CHILD’S SELF-ESTEEM THROUGH READING, CRAFTING AND COOKING.  You can check it out by going to my website…if you pay by check or money order, you can get the book for $14.95 (plus postage…U.S. only)…only one copy per address, no dealers, please (April 10-April 16).  This is an amazing 66% off the cover price of $44.95.  The book is a great resource for parents with young children and I am trying to make it available to as many parents as possible.


For those of you who are interested in the Read with Max Book Blog tour, to find out more information about Leader Dogs for the Blind or to follow Max on the rest of his book blog tour:

Also, please don’t forget that I will be taking part in the EASTER EGGSTRAVAGANZA GIVEAWAY BLOG HOP from April 20 – April 25.  It will be the first time I will be giving away a copy of my book on my own blog, although it has been part of many reviews and several giveaways on other blog sites.  The other really cool thing is that there are over 200 bloggers taking part…you will be able to hop from one to another…read their posts and enter their giveaways. So keep your eye on my posts for more information.

Please stop by tomorrow for Saturday Ramblings: Preserve, Protect and Promote…Earth Day 2011

Is Kindergarten the New First Grade?

Hugo Oehmichen Im Kindergarten

Image via Wikipedia

They say you can’t go back.

What do you think?

I remember walking into P.S. 199 as a student teacher.  I had attended this elementary school as a ten-year old sixth grader…now I was 20 years old and a senior in college, pursuing my early childhood education degree.  How small the double wooden entrance doors looked now!  How tiny the seats in the classroom seemed!

It didn’t seem to be the same school that I had stored away in my memory banks.

Since January, I’ve been presenting the SHOW-ME-HOW Story-time Reading and Crafting Program to District 11 kindergartens and Pre-K’s.  It is really great to be back in the classroom, interacting with students and teachers and parents.

But today’s kindergartens don’t seem to be the same as those stored away in my memory banks.

Why do I say that?

  • When I was teaching kindergarten (back in the 60’s and 70’s), the children learned through play and there was very little “formal” instruction.  In today’s kindergartens, I see a lot of “formal” teaching of reading and writing…not just the ABC’s.
  • When I was teaching, kindergarten was a preparation for first grade.  In today’s kindergartens, there seems to be an expectation that the children will be reading and writing by the time they enter first grade.
  • When I was teaching kindergarten, we understood that children mature in their own unique ways…while it is true that some 4½ year olds are quite capable of learning to read and write (I had several who came to kindergarten already reading and writing and speaking several languages), it is also true that many children have not yet developed the fine motor skills necessary for holding the pencil and mapping out the letters.  With reading, we have the same situation…some children have the eye-brain coordination, but some need just a little more time to physically mature.
  • In my opinion, the only advantage to “pushing” these little ones to read and write is that, if there are problems such as visual impairment or learning disorders, they may be discovered at this earlier age and intervention can be arranged.  However, the down side is that we are already labeling these young children…and often these labels stick, even if it was just a maturity issue that was the cause.
  • Almost every kindergarten teacher I have visited with has mentioned the lack of time to READ picture books to the children.  Arts and crafts are also an area that is pushed to the back burner.  Now, all of you know how passionate I am about reading to young children…and how much I believe in the importance of encouraging children to express themselves in arts and crafts activities.  I realize that the curriculum and standards are mandated by the state…teachers don’t really have control over those things and are held accountable for the levels of learning their students achieve.
  • The almost frantic pace I observed in some of the kindergartens was even stressful for me…imagine how it must be for five-year olds!  They change activities (and rooms) as if someone is surfing channels on the TV with a remote control.  Perhaps they are used to it…having been exposed to the constant mini-bytes that are prevalent even on the educational TV channels.  Again, I undertand that most of kindergarten teachers would probably prefer to go back to a “kinder, gentler” type of classroom.  Don’t get me wrong…I do believe in routines and schedules for young children…I think they thrive when they know what the plan is…I just wish it was a less hectic plan.  I know it used to be in the kindergartens stored in my memory banks.

What do you think?  Do you have a child in kindergarten?  Are you a kindergarten teacher?  Do you agree that the kindergarten of today is the new first grade?  And, do you think this is a postive or negative change?


TODAY, APRIL 9th, is the LAST day you can purchase SHOW ME HOW! at 50% off the cover price on my website:  Parents, grandparents, teachers and daycare providers of preschoolers…please don’t delay…this unique resource is a shortcut to providing educational fun-filled self-esteem building acitivities for your children.  MOTHER’S DAY is just around the corner…what a wonderful gift this would make, even for an expectant mom!  And this is also the last day to enter to win the collection of craft supplies for your preschooler…purchase a book or fill out the contact form on my website or leave a comment on my blog about why you would like to win the prize. 

TOMORROW: Sunday, April 10th…I will be at the Covered Treasures Bookstore in Monument, CO from 2-3:30pm, talking about reading, crafting and cooking with young children and signing copies of my book.  For more details, please go to or call 719-481-2665.  The Book Fair (from 12:30-4pm) is for the benefit of the Tri-Lakes Community Preschool Tuition Assistance Program.  If you are local to Monument, Colorado Springs or Denver, please head on over to say hello and do your part to support early childhood education!

Tuesday, April 12th…I will be hosting Max the Dog as he continues his 36 day book blog tour.  For more details about the on-going contest and to see where he has been and where he is going, please visit:

The Day I Almost Changed My Mind About Becoming a Teacher

National Museum

Image via Wikipedia

In May of 1967, I had graduated from college with a bachelor’s in early childhood education, completed my student teaching requirements, and passed the New York City teacher’s licensing exam.  I was fortunate that the principal, of the school where I had done my student teaching had created a new kindergarten class for me that would start in the upcoming school year.  I was excited and thrilled that my life-long goal of becoming a kindergarten teacher was finally going to be realized.  In addition, I was to be married at the end of the summer, right before school started!

So, when the principal asked me if I would do some substitute teaching in June, during the last month of school, I jumped at the opportunity.  I would be getting classroom experience as a “real” teacher…and I would be earning some extra money that would certainly be useful for two newly-weds.

The first call came one early morning in the first week in June.  I would be taking over a second grade.  As I parked my car (parking cars on city streets near schools is a whole other blog post topic) and walked into the school, my heart beat quickly…a little with nervous excitement and a little with happiness at embarking on this new journey.

Many schools divide each grade level into homogeneous classes…that is, most of the students in each class are at a similar learning level.  The 2nd grade students in the class I was assigned to were so smart and self-motivated …they almost didn’t need a teacher. 

I walked into the room…the children filed in a few at a time…smiling at me…taking their seats.  When everyone was seated, I introduced myself.  From that moment on, the day was an absolute dream.  The children knew exactly what they were supposed to be doing in each subject…and they did it…with very little direction from me.  At the end of the day, I was convinced I was a natural…destined to be the best teacher ever!

When the phone rang the next morning, I answered it with a smile.   “I’ll be right there.”  This time I entered the classroom with confidence.  I had been assigned to a fourth grade…even better, I thought. 

Two boys walked in, pushing each other.  Another was shooting spit balls out of a straw.

And it was all downhill from that moment on. 

At one point, I sent one of the girls to the chalkboard with a basin of water to clean it off…one of the boys grabbed the basin and upended it over her head.  Books were purposely dropped on the floor while another child was reading out loud.  One girl began crying that her pigtails had been pulled by the boy sitting behind her.  No one had done their homework…no one knew what lesson they had been studying.  Very few had their books…and those that did were using them to hit any classmate within reach.

They were out of control…and I felt helpless to control them.

By the end of the day, I was almost In tears…convinced that I had been mistaken about my career choice.

When the phone rang the next morning, I ignored it.  During the night, I had given a lot of thought to my experience.  I decided that the money was not as important as the destruction of my hopes and dreams.  I knew where I belonged…in early childhood classes.  It was what I had prepared myself for and I wanted to be able to look forward to the new school year with eager anticipation. 

I did go on to teach kindergarten and Head Start for many years…and I can honestly say that I LOVED every minute of it…from the lesson plans, to the story readings…from the field trips with two lines of boys and girls holding hands, gazing in awe at the museum exhibit or the animals in the zoo to snack time with milk and cookies. 

I have so many fond memories of my teaching days…and I am thrilled to be able to be back in the classroom again.  My SHOW ME HOW Story-Time Program for the local Pre-K and kindergarten students has enabled me to share the picture book stories and craft projects recommended in my new book.  I was also able to share with the parents who attended the presentation on Thursday the importance of reading to young children, talking with them and participating with them positively. 

If you have young children and need some story suggestions, great eco-friendly craft projects and easy-peasy healthy cooking activities, why not grab a copy. Head on over to my website where we’ve slashed the price to $22.50…that’s 50% of the cover price.  It will be the best gift you could give to yourself and your preschooler.