Fun activities, aligned with the PA Early Learning Standards, to help your child have a successful Kindergarten year. 
We Are Learning in October
Now that your child is in kindergarten, there are new ways you can help them learn. Try these activities, then visit your library to check out a book about it. Click here to print this list.

We are learning Social and Emotional Development
Do it!
Go outside one night with your kindergartner to look at the stars. Talk about what can be seen. If you can't see the stars, discuss what might prevent you from seeing them (like clouds in the sky or bright city lights). Find children's books in the library that explain astronomy. If your kindergartner's vision is limited, find star books in braille and that glow in the dark, so they can touch the stars. Make a star book using stickers and construction paper, so they can touch the stars.
Read it!
Stars by Mary Lyn Ray. Papa, Please Get The Moon for Me by Eric Carle.

We are learning Language and Literacy
Do it!
Look through books and magazines to find words that rhyme. For extra practice developing these skills, talk in rhyme to your kindergartner. For example, "I see that cat is on the mat and needs a hat." Once your kindergartner is able to recognize words that rhyme, ask them to produce a third word that follows the rhyme. Find picture books or nursery rhymes that include rhyming words. Create your own picture book with braille or written words next to the picture. Play hand clapping games like Pat-a-Cake and Miss-Mary-Mack or sing songs that have rhyming words with action words like "I'm a Little Teapot."
Read it!
Pizza, Pigs and Poetry by Jack Prelutsky. Is Your Mama a Llama? by Deborah Guarino.

We are learning Social and Emotional Development
Do it!
Have your kindergartner draw a picture of themself. Write a sentence of what they like about themself. Bring out a mirror so your kindergartner can look at their facial features, point out two eyes, one mouth, etc. Show how you would draw yourself to give them clues on where to start. Talk about colors and shapes while you're drawing. For children still developing writing skills, another idea is use pre-cut shapes your child assembles into an image.
Read it!
Stephanie's Ponytail by Robert Munsch. Elmer by David McKee.

We are learning Language and Literacy
Do it!
Go to the library where you and your kindergartner can each pick out a book to read. Which book is the funniest? Which has the best pictures? Which book is the favorite? Ask the librarian -- they might have resources like large magnifiers, larger print, braille books and books on tape. For emerging readers, wordless picture books make reading the story fun and less intimidating. Have your kindergartner look for pictures, words or numbers that guide your kindergartner's favorite things.
Read it!
Fooling Ewe by Mike Demers. Fishing in Potato Salad by Othen Donald Dale Cummings.
Share Your Experiences with Humor in Raising Children in this Quick Survey
Have you shared your experiences with the use of humor in raising children in this quick survey? Whatever your experience has been (as a child or a parent), Dr. Benjamin Levi of the Penn State Children’s Hospital is interested in hearing about it. 


There are no right or wrong answers--just the opportunity for you to share your experiences about humor and parenting. The information collected will not be linked to any individuals, but it will give a better understanding of how humor can be used to help raise children. 

Thank you for your participation! A full explanation of the survey is available when you click here.
Encouraging Your Kindergartner's Development of Fine Motor Skills
From the time they’re born, children are working on their fine motor skills and they continue to develop their fine motor skills as they get older. Fine motor skills are the movements the hands and fingers make to grasp and manipulate objects. The way an object feels, moves or even tastes can help a child learn about the world around them.
 
When your kindergartner was a baby, they used fine motor skills to grasp your fingers and clench their hands. They may have grabbed or held onto rattles or teethers and passed objects from one hand to the next. As your child became a toddler, they used fine motor skills when eating, playing and exploring the world around them. By the time your child entered kindergarten, the fine motor skills they started developing as a baby are helping them learn to write, use scissors, button clothes, build with blocks and more.
 
Tips to help your kindergartner learn fine motor skills
 
  • Give your kindergartner opportunities to explore and manipulate age-appropriate objects. Give them supervised access to crayons, child-safe scissors, finger paints, pipe cleaners and other craft objects to draw, mold, and manipulate. Even toys like LEGOS, puzzles and blocks can help with the development of fine motor skills.
  • Encourage use of both hands. Did you know being left or right handed can come from mom or dad? A recent study shows the same genetic markers tied to being left-handed may also play roles in brain development and communication between different brain areas. Although children may be as old as six years old before they show a preference for using their left or right hand, encouraging them to use either hand means they can more fully explore their world and learn.
  • Expect a mess. Messes can be learning experiences! When your kindergartner digs into the dirt, or cuts construction paper into small pieces, these are learning experiences using fine motor skills. 
When Frightful isn't Delightful

It's the season for ghosts, goblins and scary things, especially for young children! Even if your family does not participate in Halloween activities, there are displays at stores, schools or activity centers.
 
10 Books about Being Afraid

Children can have many fears--of the dark, going to bed, or new places. The fears can change with their age or experiences, and sometimes we don't understand their fears. But for children, those fears can be very real.
 
Talk with your child's teacher, doctor or health care professional if your child is having difficulty with fears, or you feel the fears are causing problems with your child.
 
You can also read books with your child about the fears others may have and how they coped with those fears. PA's Promise for Children has a list of 10 children's books about being afraid.
Protecting Your Kindergartner from the Flu 

Just as it does every year without fail, influenza season – also known as flu season – is coming. Many people don't realize it, but the flu can be a very serious illness. It causes thousands of deaths in the United States every year, some of which are among previously healthy children.
 
As a parent, the best thing you can do to protect your children from the flu is to get them vaccinated. Everyone around them should be vaccinated, too.
 
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends everyone six months and older get the flu vaccine for the 2022-2023 flu season.
 
Each year, it is possible that flu, COVID-19, and other common viruses will spread at the same time. Last influenza season was longer than most. Sometimes, the vaccine is not an exact match with the strains in the community. But the vaccine still can protect against serious illness. Talk with your pediatrician about your child getting the flu vaccine along with other recommended immunizations. This includes getting a COVID-19 vaccine or booster, if they are eligible.
 
Check out these resources to help protect your child from the flu.
COVID-19 Vaccinations and Young Children

The number of COVID-19 vaccinations for children 6 months – 5 years of age is very low--in Pennsylvania it’s about 10%, and nationally it’s 8%. COVID-19 vaccines lower the chance of getting very sick from the virus. Vaccinated children are less likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19 than those who are not vaccinated. When more people are vaccinated, including children, there is less chance that other people will get sick.

Check out these great resources, available in multiple languages, to learn more about COVID-19 vaccinations for children: 


All Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center (ECLKC) pages are translated into Spanish. Select the Español button on the top right corner to see the Spanish translation.
Health and Safety in a Before or After School Program

When you trust your child to someone else, you want to be sure that both you and your child feel safe. In Pennsylvania, child care programs must meet state health and safety regulations. The regulations cover areas like
  • Safety standards for the building and classrooms;
  • Staff requirements, such as age, education level;
  • Staff to child ratios - how many staff people must be in a classroom with a certain number of children at all times (the younger the children, the more staff per classroom);
  • Classroom and playground equipment;
  • Supervision of children; and
  • Nutrition and adult and child health.

When you are looking for a before or after school program for your child, visit the program and look for signs of safety.
  • Department of Human Services Child Care Certificate is posted.
  • Check inspection and violation history of child care programs before you visit at www.findchildcare.pa.gov.
  • Does the facility appear orderly and clean?
  • Are hazardous materials locked away?
  • Is there an emergency plan and is it posted?
  • Are there security measures in place?
  • Is there a policy for sick children and other circumstances?
  • Find resources for supporting your child in a before or after-school setting during COVID-19 on the PA Promise for Children website.

Visit PA's Promise to find more information about finding a safe and secure location for your child to learn.
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The Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) provides families access to high quality services to prepare children for school and life success. 
  
Find more information about Quality Early Learning in Pennsylvania