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Omaha Magazine

More than the ABCs

Aug 19, 2014 09:00AM ● By Bev Carlson
Little 5-year-old Emma already knows her ABCs. Well, most of them.  And she can count to five.  Sometimes all the way to seven.

But is she really ready for kindergarten?

Academic ability is only one indicator of whether a child is ready to make the transition from preschool into a kindergarten classroom.

“Research shows that academic learning does not happen in the absence of social and emotional development,” says Megan Jones, Mental Health Therapist.  “A child’s brain simply doesn’t take in information without the ability to cope with the environment and handle the stressors that are involved in everyday life.”

In other words, if by the age of five, a child has not learned to sit quietly without running all over a room, or know how to handle another child hurting their feelings without completely melting down and losing control—he or she will struggle.  To absorb spelling and math lessons, he needs to be able to calmly move from one task to another or even from naptime to lunchtime without stress.

Behavior problems in young children can be addressed, and it’s crucial that parents act as soon as possible.  In fact, the younger the child, the more easily and quickly the issues can be corrected. Experts have found that, depending on the child’s history, something as simple as changing a bedtime routine or redirecting playtime activities can provide insight and solutions to a child’s behavioral needs. Children who have witnessed or experienced trauma, however, may require more extensive therapy.

Fortunately, our little Emma has developed the social and emotional tools she will need—friendship skills, coping skills, problem solving, and how to recognize and label emotions: “I’m angry.” “I’m sad today.” “I’m having a happy day.”  These powerful tools will allow her to face her kindergarten classroom calmly, with confidence, and destined for success.

If you think your child may need early childhood behavioral therapy, please contact Lutheran Family Services (LFS) at 402-661-7100.  If childhood sexual abuse is of concern, LFS also shares building space and is a partner agency with Project Harmony.  This allows the best integration of services for area children.


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