by Lindsay W. Brown
June 3, 2010
If we want children to have a successful start to school, it’s important that they learn basic skills such as knowing their names, addresses, ages and birth dates.
Dekalb County Learning Link’s early childhood action team has set a five-year vision of “all children entering school ready to learn” because they believe that reading and writing proficiently before leaving third grade is so essential to success in school and in life.
Learning Link member Kelly Oswalt, Executive Director of First United Methodist School of Early Learning, believes there are many reasons for a child to know basic information about themselves.
Children initiating or participating in conversations with adults provides emotional support and a social connection. When children feel comfortable speaking with others, it builds self-confidence.
Most children and adults do not share common topics for conversation. When children know their names, ages and birthdays, it provides an easy way to start a discussion, “where the child is the expert,” states Oswalt.
This can provide a springboard to other topics for which the child and adult may share interests.
A child’s knowledge of his or her name and address also provides a safety net in the event that the child should become separated from the responsible adult. A child knowing his address helps develop an awareness of how he fits in his community.
A child’s awareness of her age and birth date is one of her first experiences with an abstract skill, such as time. Learning birth dates and ages helps children develop concepts of past, present, and future.
A supportive adult can discuss memories of past birthdays, plans for future birthdays and events to come. This helps lead a child to learning about concepts of days, weeks, and months.
As children’s self awareness continues to develop, conversations with adults help further their understanding of the surrounding world. This understanding assists children as they learn to read (and comprehend), write, speak and listen.
Children will enter school ready to learn when families, schools and communities provide the environment and experiences that support their physical, social, emotional, language, literacy and thought development, beginning when children are infants.
At least half of the achievement gap between young students in school exists at kindergarten entry. The larger that gap is early, the harder it is to close.
If we want all children to read proficiently before leaving third grade—and grow into healthy teens and productive adults—it starts with skills as simple as knowing your name and address, age and birth date.
For more information about Learning Link, an initiative of the DeKalb County Community Foundation, or a four-page booklet of DeKalb County low- and no-cost learning resources for summer, go to www.dekalblearninglink.org and click on ‘Community and Parent Resources’, then ‘Early Childhood’, or call Judy Sorg at the DeKalb County Community Foundation, 260-925-0311. Learning Link is an initiative of the DeKalb County Community Foundation.
Foundation Director Wendy Oberlin fondly recalls her daughter reciting the following poem at her kindergarten program.
I know my name and address, and telephone number, too.
And if some day I lose my way, I know just what to do.
Walk up to a kind policeman, the very first one you meet.
And simply say “I lost my way, and cannot find my street.
But I know my name and address, and telephone number, too.”
He will be kind and help you find, the dear ones who wait for you.