HELENA — The transition to kindergarten is a crucial part of a child’s education, but the COVID-19 pandemic has limited many learning opportunities for young kids.
A new book by a pair of Helena teachers hopes to give families the tools they need to succeed for entering their first year of school.
"The Summer Before Kindergarten" is written by experienced early education teachers Ashlie Buresh and Emily Hankins.
The idea for the book came from a multitude of nervous parents they’d interact with every year who wanted to ensure their child was ready for kindergarten.
“Kindergarteners and their parents really don’t know what to expect, so everybody is nervous,” said Hankins. “We really felt that this book will put a lot of minds at ease. We really wanted to address those concerns, answer those questions to help those parents get prepared and have those kiddos feel excited, successful and ready to go.”
Even without a pandemic, the transition to Kindergarten can be a stressful time for both children and parents alike.
Parents want their children to succeed, but not every family has access to the same resources.
“We wanted everyone to have the chance to start off with an even playing field, and have some skills going into kindergarten,” explained Hankins. “It helps the teacher, it helps the kiddos and the families.”
The work book comes with activities for numbers, shapes, colors and every letter of the alphabet. Learning scripts are included to help parents with their child’s phonics and other skills.
The book also hopes to provide answers for many of the social questions parents have about their child attending school for the first time.
Buresh and Hankins worked on the book for six years, and used their own kids to rigorously test the activities.
“When COVID struck we realized we’ve going to have all of these kindergarteners that are going to be even more anxious and unready and feeling nervous. So we thought we need to light a fire and get this out as soon as possible,” said Hankins.
Hankins offered some advice for parents of a future kindergartener.
“Talking with your children, reading with your children, are the absolute first steps and the most important pieces,” explained Hankins. “And keeping those lines of communication open with the schools and the teachers are also huge, huge aspects that help that kindergarten transition be super successful.”
People can get their own copy of “The Summer Before Kindergarten” right here.