Teacher says language is the key to success in kindergarten

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Kindergarten is a big education step for every child, but in Arizona, less than 40 percent of kids are getting ready by going to preschool. Whether parents can't afford it, it's not convenient or they feel it's unnecessary, there are ways parents can prepare their children.

"Chomping, rolling, digging, honking," teacher Colleen Harkey reads the book in a delightful voice to the engaged group of 3- and 4-year-olds.

We found a lot of words in Harkey's preschool class in the form of reading and singing. These children come to Alta Loma Elementary from around the Peoria School District and they are exposed to language.

"We know through neuroscience, study of the child's brain, our kids are wired for oral language and they need to hear it," Harkey explained.

Danny Ybarra's parents weren't worried about him knowing the alphabet or his numbers before kindergarten, but they didn't want kindergarten to be a shock, socially.

"He's a lot more vocal and interactive with the kids and asking the teacher questions, where before he really wouldn't do any of that," said his father, Danny.

Harkey knows every child getting ready for kindergarten can't come to her class, but she said there is no reason parents can't do the same things she does.

"They're on a drive, talk to them about that drive, talk to them about the park, talk to them about their day," she said. "Sometimes as a parent we can get in such a hurry that we're talking at our children, and this is actually engaging them in conversations."

If your child is starting kindergarten in the fall, Harkey suggests taking them to the library this summer and reading, teach them the letters in their name, and make reading part of their bedtime routine.

"They're going to have a lot of fun but it's a lot of work," Harkey said of kindergarten. "You want them well rested. You want to give them a good healthy breakfast. You want to start them off right."

The bottom line is kids should know how to communicate when they get to kindergarten. If they can listen, speak and want to learn, they have a better chance at success.