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prepare young children for success in kindergarten


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Press Room & Testimonials


“Hi Jaclyn, Thanks so much! This is great. Your book has been very helpful - my daughter has learned so much! I'll go through the evaluation with her and see where her strengths are and what we still need to work on. Thank you again.” --Micheline Clement, Boyds, MD

“I have been using the Kindergarten Readiness Guide for 2 months with my four year old daughter. Since using it, I have noticed a drastic change in her willingness to learn. In just a short time, she has improved in her recognition of lower case letters (12 out of 26) to (20 out of 26). She also recognizes and names all of her basic shapes (square, rectangle, circle, diamond, triangle, and oval), along with two of the three dimensional shapes (cube and cone).

As two busy parents with one child who is already attending school, it is often difficult to find time to work with our younger child. The Kindergarten Readiness Guide allows me the opportunity to work one-on-one with her, while ensuring she gets a jumpstart on her education.” --Tonnette Hodge, Long Beach, CA

(7 months later) “Brooke just recently started preschool and her teacher was amazed at the amount of things she already knew considering that she is 4 and she started at the school in December. I am sure that it is due to the things I as a parent already use along with the incorporation of your book. Thank You.” --Tonnette Hodge, Long Beach, CA

“What a goldmine of wonderful ideas for parents. Written at a level easily accessible for all to understand.”
--Dr. Mavis Brown, Department of Education Professor, University of Richmond, VA

“What I find most helpful in your book are the teaching suggestions. I love all the little games that can be used throughout the day. Also, it would have never occurred to me to mention the author of the books we read. Now, Cheyenne can identify all Tommie dePaula books!! The reading comprehension suggestions are fantastic. My comment is I wish I had ordered it much much sooner.” --Terri Crovato, Silver Spring, MD

"I have been using these assessments in my schools over the past few years. I am so happy that I found it again and will be downloading several copies for my teachers to use. I actually prefer the parent version because it allows us to do the assessment with the children and then send it home for the parents to continue to use throughout their child's Kindergarten year in school. Thank you so much for developing such an amazing tool for early educators and parents to use with their students and children. I will include a link to your site on my website so that parents and educators can gain access to this wonderful educational tool." --Meghan Hamilton,

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Press Room

Kindergarten Readiness has been seen on: BellaOnline, Local 8 San Diego News,, Childrens Campaign Inc, Contra Costa Times, Online News, Lesson Plans Page, Preschool Rainbow, Ventura County Star, Tallahassee Democrat Online Newspaper,,, AZ Central, Canadian Content Early Childhood References,,, Bend Oregon Bulletin

Posted January 26, 2013

"How to Prepare your Preschooler for Kindergarten" by OC Mommies. An interview with Jaclyn Bower, author of The Kindergarten Readiness Guide and Founder of

Posted March 30, 2012

Is your child ready? •Central Oregon educators say kindergarten preparedness is not all about knowing the ABCs, 123s •

By Alandra Johnson/ The Bulletin

Some children arrive for the first day of kindergarten able to read, count to 10 and write their first and last names. Other kids come to class never having held a pencil or owned a book.

Differences show up in all sorts of ways: Some children don't know how to use scissors, interact with their peers, zip up their coats or wait their turn.

All of these skills — some social, some cognitive, some physical — factor into whether a child is ready for kindergarten.

DeeAnn Lewis teaches classes on kindergarten readiness as part of her role as a parent education coordinator for the Family Resource Center of Central Oregon. She calls kindergarten the most important year of school. Children who don't like kindergarten, Lewis says, are likely to continue to struggle with school.

Children who are not ready for kindergarten are at risk of falling behind academically, she said.

Parents, however, can help ensure their children are ready. The good news is that preparing kids for school isn't about drilling them on the ABCs or busting out flash cards. Turns out, building skills for kindergarten should feel natural and even fun.

Why it matters

Sunshine Dandurand teaches reading skills to kindergartners at Buckingham Elementary School in Bend and previously served as a kindergarten teacher for nine years. She says it is fairly clear which students have spent time with books and other enriching experiences and which have not. Dandurand says children can make up this gap, but typically those kids who come in with solid skills end up feeling more confident and more successful and can build from there.

A kindergarten teacher for 10 years, California resident Jaclyn Bower, decided to write a book and start a website dedicated to kindergarten readiness ( in order to address issues she saw over the years, especially with children who were “showing up completely unprepared.” As a teacher, she could absolutely tell the difference between children who were prepared and those who weren't, particularly in terms of confidence and self-esteem. The kids who knew a few numbers and letters felt empowered and excited, Bowers said. She said children who struggle in kindergarten are “always kind of struggling.” And the reverse is also true.

“If they can have a great kindergarten experience, it's like a launching block,” Bowers said.

In 2008, the last year Oregon conducted a kindergarten readiness survey, 46 percent of children entering kindergarten met all five of the developmental areas being measured. The information is based on voluntary surveys conducted with kindergarten teachers throughout the state. In 2008, for instance, the results showed 77 percent of kindergartners in Jefferson County meeting the social and personal development areas, while 38 percent of kindergartners in Crook County met the general knowledge and cognitive development areas.

The state is currently working on implementing new, more accurate measures of kindergarten readiness as this previous study is considered to have issues with reliability.

What is readiness?

When it comes to school readiness, Lewis says, academic skills are secondary to social and emotional skills. While being able to recognize some letters, shapes, colors and numbers is a good thing, it is not as critical as some other aspects. “There is not a teacher in this district who can't handle the academic portion if the kid comes in ready to learn.”

According to Lewis, children who arrive for kindergarten should be able to:

• Stand in line

• Make friends

• Have a vocabulary of feeling words and be able to express their emotions through words rather than actions

• Be able to sit still for activities such as circle time

• Have the fine motor skills to hold a pencil and use scissors

Lewis says children also need to be have experience interacting with other children.

Bowers believes social skills are key — those who cannot express their feelings can end up becoming extremely frustrated. They may retreat or end up taking out their frustration on other kids, she says. Bowers also suggests parents think about how their children handle transitions and routines, two important aspects of school.

In terms of academics, Bowers says it is helpful if children can recognize a few numbers and letters, in particular the letters in the child's name or even just the first letter. Otherwise, she says children end up with a lot to learn the first year. “We almost don't give kids enough credit for what they can learn at age 2, 3, 4,” she said.

Kids should also know colors and be able to follow a two- or three-step set of directions, says Bowers.

Social skills are also key. Some children may need to learn how to tell their peers “no” and “I don't like that.” Shy children may need to gain skills for the playground to know how to make friends, says Lewis. She says some children aren't used to interacting with other kids and will end up standing back and watching. They are “too shy to figure out what they are supposed to do.” Others will try to take over a game or just stand nearby, waiting.

Parents' role

“The best thing parents can do is just reading to kids,” said Dandurand. “The most bang for your buck is nightly reading to your child.” She says five minutes a night is enough.

Dana Arntson, director of federal programs for Bend-La Pine Schools, agrees reading is the key to school readiness. It can help children understand stories, develop receptive language skills, vocabulary and much more. “We can tell the kids that have not had experience with books,” said Arntson.

Bowers also recommends parents simply talk to their children — explain what's going on. Or visit museums, libraries and other places and talk about what you see. This can “develop listening skills and gives them knowledge of the world,” said Bowers. But parents need not worry about making a lesson plan. Bowers says: “Make it enjoyable, fun and play-based.”

Another thing parents can do is to let kids know they value education and that school is important, says Lewis.

Kids can also learn important skills when they play games. Playing board games like Candyland and Chutes and Ladders has benefits beyond fun. Dandurand says it helps children learn to take turns and how to count. Children learn how to win and lose and what that feels like — all “skills we take for granted,” but that are necessary, says Dandurand. While she says workbooks aren't bad, per say, they aren't necessary. Instead, learning to problem solve and interact are more important.

Lewis agrees parents should be able to “just incorporate (kindergarten readiness) into everyday life.” Parents may also want to tailor any efforts to their child. For instance, if parents know a child has trouble with impulse control, they may want to play red light, green light, a game in which children have to fight the impulse to run and have to listen carefully. “Learning to wait until your name is called is difficult,” said Lewis. And some kids need extra practice.

While zipping children's coats or putting on their snow boots for them may be faster, ultimately kids need to know how to do these things for themselves. Lewis says some children can end up spending half of recess trying to get their gear on and off.

Dandurand points out this learning curve can be frustrating for little ones, but “struggling with something is good for their brains.”

Creating craft projects can also help kids develop fine motor skills by getting them to use scissors, crayons or hole punchers, says Bowers. “Make it fun; make it a game.”

Parents may also want to work with children to pick up after themselves and take care of their things, says Bowers. Some children leave materials sitting out or leave their lunch on the table.

That said, Bowers says, “You can't expect a child to be perfect in school.”

Stephanie Sundborg, an early childhood specialist with Deschutes County Children and Families Commission, encourages parents to try to visit the school with their child before school starts to bridge the gap for children, especially those children who might struggle with transitions. “Talk to your child about what to expect,” said Sundborg.

State view

School readiness is one of the education goals outlined by Gov. John Kitzhaber. The state's Early Learning Council is tasked with helping implement that goal, and a group is working on developing a kindergarten readiness assessment tool, according to Sundborg. The tool is expected to be ready to implement in pilot areas this fall, with plans to roll it out statewide in 2013, according to Sundborg. Children will be measured in areas of maternal and child health, language and literacy development, social and emotional health, family support, and cognitive development.

Sundborg says everything from birth on is part of school readiness, so this includes factors like nutrition, health, family involvement and more. “This is a more comprehensive view of readiness. It isn't something you start preparing for only a few months before school starts,” although she says there are things parents can do in those months to help prepare kids. Sundborg says the goal is for children to be assessed several times before they enter school.

Sundborg says schools in Jefferson and Crook counties have requested the opportunity to serve as pilot sites for the assessments.

In general, Sundborg says the council is focusing on kids who would be at risk of falling through the cracks.

Sundborg hopes that the these steps will not result in an acceleration of academic expectations for kids. She notes there is a range of normal development and children learn better when they are able to discover things for themselves versus having to do rote memorization.

That said, Sundborg thinks the goal of kindergarten readiness is a good one, saying there is a correlation between success in kindergarten and graduating from high school.

Kindergarten events

This seven-week class is for parents and their children who are preparing to enter kindergarten, held by the Family Resource Center of Central Oregon. Free, includes light dinner, parent handbook and sibling child care.

Bend: 5:30-7:30 p.m. Wednesdays starting April 4 at Ensworth Elementary School, 2150 N.E. Daggett Lane.

La Pine: 6-8 p.m. Tuesdays, starting April 24 at La Pine Elementary School, 51615 Coach Road.

Redmond: 6-8 p.m. Wednesdays, starting April 4 at M.A. Lynch Elementary School, 1314 S.W. Kalama Ave.

To register, 541-389-5468 or

Kindergarten roundups

Many Bend-La Pine elementary schools will host kindergarten roundups April 18. Some magnet and other schools have already held them.

Children can be registered at these events. Some schools host special programs for parents and kids. Check with individual school for details. Parents can also try to set up an alternate time to visit.

— Reporter: 541-617-7860,


What parents can do

The following activities are recommended by educators and researchers as ways parents can help their preschoolers become more ready for kindergarten.

Read to your child. Five minutes a night is enough to build listening, language and literacy skills.

Play games together. This can teach all sorts of skills, including turn-taking, how to win and lose, how to count and how to engage people socially.

Tell stories.

Write family members' names in the dirt or sand.

Donning the gear. Have children practice putting on shoes, coats, hats, gloves and heavy snow gear. Have them pack and carry a backpack.

Counting forks. Ask kids to put away the silverware; this can help build math skills, according to DeeAnn Lewis.

Visit your child's school. Meet the principal and future teacher, if possible. Take the child to play on the playground, so the school becomes a familiar place.

Check out activities on the Oregon Ready Schools calendar designed to help parents prepare children for kindergarten. (Visit and search for “Ready, Set, Grow”).

Example activities: Give your child a pair of kitchen tongs to pick up objects using the tongs. Go on a shape hunt — look for objects shaped like a circle, triangle, rectangle, square, oval and diamond. Read simple fairy tales — talk about which character your child likes most. Draw a picture of everyone who lives at your house.

Posted November 15, 2011

Blog Article by PreKScholars

Studies show that early education has enormous benefits. There is a direct correlation between quality early education programs and school success. As a parent or teacher of a preschooler, how do we know what to look for in a quality program? When addressing Kindergarten Readiness, there are many common questions:

Is my child ready for school? What about the kindergarten cut off date for enrollment in relation to my child’s birthday? What can I do to prepare my child at home? Is my child on target developmentally? My child isn’t pronouncing certain sounds, should I worry? What should I look for in choosing a quality preschool program? …

If you find that you have raised one or more of these questions in your own mind, I would like to introduce you to a valuable resource relating to Kindergarten Readiness.

Kindergarten provides a wealth of information related to preparing children for school, all compiled into one user-friendly website. They offer articles, downloadable and printable resources, comprehensive e-books, useful links and coverage of hot topics to help parents and educators provide young children with the very best early childhood education possible. Jaclyn Bower holds a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and is the founder of Kindergarten Like me, she believes that kids are capable of so much. With the proper ingredients the learning that can take place is limitless! Consider the potential if both parents and teachers exposed them to information in the right environment and in a developmentally appropriate way.

Enjoy a letter from the founder and I encourage you to check out as it is full of valuable information as it relates to preschool, preschool curriculums and kindergarten readiness. Likewise, if you find any other websites as equally resourceful, please share!

Posted on Wed, Apr. 20, 2005

The Kindergarten Conundrum

Whether a child is ready is a rising concern for parents

 By Peggy Spear


-- Sources: Jaclyn Morris,;

WHEN ANDREW Lentz turned 5 in August 2004, his parents made the decision that might have seemed ludicrous a couple of decades ago. They choose not to start him in kindergarten, opting to wait a year until he was 6.

"He was shy and reserved, so we felt he wasn't ready," said his mom Cindy, of Walnut Creek. However, three years earlier, she had no qualms about sending her daughter to kindergarten, even though she was just turning 5. "We knew she was ready," Lentz says.

In the next few weeks -- if they haven't already -- parents will be enrolling their children in local kindergartens. The decision is much more complicated these days because of increased academic standards and an innate sense that parents want their child to be able to succeed. Moms and dads must mull factors such as birth month, personality traits and gender in an attempt to make sure their kids are up to the task of the first year of public school.

Being "ready" for kindergarten doesn't constitute what it used to mean, either. Remember the old poem, "All I ever needed to know, I learned in kindergarten," which espoused simple pleasures like naps, snacks and friendly socialization? Well, that could be changed to "All I ever needed to know I learned in pre-K class, because kindergarten just got tougher." These days, kids are expected to learn how to read, do basic math functions, have decent handwriting and essentially complete what used to be a first-grade curriculum in kindergarten, which makes it all the more critical that kids are ready.

"Kindergarten isn't a place to play and have fun anymore. It's much more academic," says Jaclyn Morris, creator of the Southern California-based Web site

And the fact is, many 5 year olds aren't ready to tackle that.

"A stressed-out kindergartner isn't a good thing," says Diane Kisner, the founder of the Merriewood Children's Center at Lafayette's Burton Valley Elementary. Kisner runs a preschool and after-school program and says that it is very important that kids have "time to play."

"We're not anxious for kids to grow up earlier than they do already" she says. "They need to be kids."

That is a sentiment shared by many parents and educators, but it's getting harder to adhere to, especially as kindergarten becomes more academic. One of the ways parents are coping is by holding children out a year, usually if their fifth birthday falls after June -- and especially if that child is a boy.

"It's a tough call on whether kids are ready for kindergarten or not," Morris says. "Many children, at age 4, don't have the fine motor skills to have good handwriting or to use scissors properly, and it may be a good idea to wait a year before starting kindergarten."

On the other hand, she says, an older child may be bored with the kindergarten curriculum.

In California, the controversial kindergarten cut-off date is Dec. 2, while most other states use an early September date. When you combine a child who turns 5 in late November with a child nearly a year-and-a-half older, it can be a challenging mix for the average kindergarten teacher.

"As I get to know kids, I make a point to find their strengths, their gifts," says Kathi Beadleson, a 20-year kindergarten teacher from Moraga. "The important thing is to help develop their self-esteem."

Finding each child's gifts is a euphemism for what is referred to in educational circles as "differentiated instruction," a way for teachers to address the specific learning levels of different students. It is being used more frequently in schools throughout the East Bay, but in some schools where there may be more than 30 children in a class, it can still be a daunting task.

Sometimes, Morris says, despite a teacher's best efforts, it is important that a child repeat kindergarten. "It's important not to make a big deal about it," Morris says. "Just think of it as a 'starter' year."

Still, most experts agree that when in doubt, it's better to wait than send your child to kindergarten and a situation they may not be ready for. "I would much rather have a child repeat a year of preschool than be retained later on," Beadleson says.

However, many parents may not want the stigma of waiting a year attached to their child -- and to them. To that, Morris says to "think about the best interest of the child, and put away your own ego."

The other factor that needs to be taken into consideration is how the child will function down the road. If a child is younger than most of his peers in kindergarten, it may be a slight problem then, but that immaturity can have more severe repercussions during the teen years.

If parents are in doubt about whether their child is ready to take on the vast world of kindergarten, Morris and Beadleson suggest spending time talking to the experts -- the principal and kindergarten teachers at the school the child will be attending. But many educators say the best judges of a child's readiness are the parents themselves.

"Parents need to understand that they are their children's most important teachers," Morris says. "They're in the best place to decide if a child is ready to go or not."

Peggy Spear covers family and relationship issues for the Times. Reach her at 925-943-8241 or


These days, kindergarten isn't just a time to play. California's 5- and 6-year-olds are expected to know how to read, do basic math facts and write simple sentences by the time they head off to first grade. That can cause stress and anxiety for both children and their parents if a child isn't ready to take on the demands of school.

Most education experts say that preschool helps make the transition to kindergarten easier, but just as important are the activities kids do at home.

Here are some tips from kindergarten teachers, the National PTA and other education experts on what parents can do to help prepare their children for kindergarten:

Read. According to Jaclyn Morris, creator of the Web site, reading to children is the single most important thing a parent can do to encourage learning skills.

Play. Encourage imaginative play, make-believe and dress-up. Through play, children learn concepts, how to interact with peers; they also practice using their large and small muscle groups and learn how to make choices.

Practice the alphabet and numbers. Use everyday activities -- such as a trip to the grocery store or riding in the car -- to encourage counting.

Help the child with puzzles, drawing and other activities that help develop fine motor skills.

Play with other kids. Whether it's through organized play groups or visits to local parks, make sure your child has ample time to socialize. This will help your child learn how to interact with others and let you see how he does.

Ask questions about things you've seen and read. "Why did Bear go back home?" "Why didn't Sam want to eat the green eggs and ham?" This encourages critical thinking.

Talk to your child. Children learn about language and self-expression when they engage in verbal exchanges with others.

Provide concrete learning experiences for children. Take children along with you to the post office, library and local children's museums. Letting them experience these places and talking with them about what they're seeing, hearing and touching exposes them to learning.

Provide opportunities for children to practice independence by allowing them to make certain choices and try out things, and encourage problem solving.


While many children today attend preschool and junior kindergarten programs, there is still some question as to whether many are developmentally ready to succeed in kindergarten. Here are some guidelines:

Does your child exhibit curiosity, a desire to learn new things?

Is your child willing to ask questions and ask for help?

Is your child emotionally ready to interact with other children?

Does your child have basic academic readiness? (Knows the ABCs, numbers up to 10, shapes, colors and has decent motor skills)

Can your child sit still for up to 20 minutes and focus on a subject?

Can your child understand rules and routines? Can she/he exhibit independence in picking up and putting away toys?



Are America’s Children Really Ready For School? Helps Create Successful Kindergarteners

Dana Point, CA -- September 13, 2004-- Helping all children start school ready to learn is critical to their future success and to the well-being of society as a whole. Studies have shown that after leaving school, children who were engaged in a good readiness program are more likely to be employed and less likely to be on welfare.

Jaclyn Morris, educator, author of The Kindergarten Readiness Guide, and creator of understands this need for quality pre-school education. Morris explains, “As a teacher, I am always encouraging parents to get involved at home with their child’s education. My most successful students are always those whose parents have worked with them one-on-one at home from a young age.” Morris continues, “Many parents assume their child will simply learn everything they need to know in kindergarten, which may have been the case many years ago, but does not hold true today.”

Her book, The Kindergarten Readiness Guide, is a comprehensive tool for parents to use with their young children at home. This first-of-its-kind book includes assessments, checklists, and teaching suggestions for over 100 skills, as well as answers to frequently asked questions about preschool and kindergarten. It also contains lists of recommended books, websites, videos, and software. Morris’ website provides articles, links, and an online store offering products related to kindergarten readiness.

A former kindergarten and first grade teacher, Jaclyn Morris saw first hand the struggles our children face today. In her newly released-debut book, she offers parents, teachers, and children some solutions. Morris has appeared on local news programs and has made numerous speaking engagements throughout Southern California.

She will be in San Diego for a book signing from September 16-21, 2004. 


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