Tuckaway Explains How to Prepare Your Child for Kindergarten

All classrooms inspire imagination, creativity and learning at Tuckaway.

Richmondmom.com knew it all along!  And now, we congratulate Tuckaway for being recognized by everyone as having the BEST Pre-School Playgrounds in Richmond!

Tuckaway Child Development Center was recently voted as the “Best Pre-school Playground” in Richmond Magazine’s Best of 2011.

Having playgrounds that children can play, climb and run in, has always been an important part of their philosophy. Playgrounds with plenty of fun, safe equipment, interactive outdoor opportunities, and wide open spaces are vital to their curriculum. They even have onsite pools, basketball courts, and soccer fields at many of their playground locations.

What is Tuckaway?

Tuckaway is one of Richmond’s most innovative, state-of-the-art child development centers in the area, and they have the credentials, awards and recognition to prove it. They’ve been educating and developing children for over 30 years in their spacious and motivational centers throughout the area.

They currently offer a private Kindergarten program at their West End Innsbrook location, and their newest Kindergarten is located in the new Varina location. Full day programs follow the Henrico County School schedule and they use the same SOL curriculum to ensure all students are prepared for what’s ahead. With a maximum teacher/student ratio of 1/15, they offer focused attention for all students.

Physical education, Spanish, art, music, computers, and other training in addition to traditional kindergarten teaching are included. Field trips relevant to the curriculum and computers in the classroom make it easy to inspire creativity and position children in thought-provoking situations that spur learning.

More than Kindergarten

Frances Powell, Director of Center Support who also oversees the kindergarten program, stresses that Tuckaway is about a lot more than kindergarten. They actually prepare 100% of their pre-school attendees no matter where they attend kindergarten when they are old enough.

“It’s not just about starting the process the year before kindergarten. At Tuckaway, we start preparing children for kindergarten their first day with us – no matter their age. We see our program as preparing children for kindergarten from infancy all the way through their earliest years. A strong focus on getting along with their peers, following directions, interacting socially and emotionally in a learning environment, and understanding the basics of structure are part of our program. Kindergarten teachers say it is a struggle for them to teach kids who have not had behavioral development along with some academic learning, so we reinforce both of these things to make the transition from preschool to kindergarten easier for kids and teachers.”

Rich Learning Environment

Tuckaway takes their job of preparing children for kindergarten seriously too. A visit to their facilities revealed classrooms rich in print materials from books and maps, to creative wall décor and an environment filled with colorful, teaching objects surrounding the children. Colorful numbers, letters, sight-words, and more covered the walls, hallways and lunch rooms.

“Learning is a part of the entire experience at Tuckaway,” explains Catherine Hoffman, Director of Center Relations. “Even lunch is a time to teach children about math, science, and reading. We apply what we have learned in the classroom with kids of all ages. For example, I may say that Brian has ½ as many peas as Corey. We ask them if they have more peas or more carrots which teaches them about relative sizes. We may talk about the ingredients used to make bread as part of their science curriculum. It’s a way to emphasize numbers and more in their real-world experiences.”

Catherine and Frances both are passionate about teaching kids and it shows. They gave numerous examples of how they teach numbers. They manipulate numbers to help children learn more about them. Instead of simply counting from 1 to 10, they help children understand actual number concepts by working with things around them. Counting blocks, separating objects into piles of specific numbers, figuring out who has more crayons than another person, counting the buttons on a shirt, and more are all daily activities that teach.

“Children often come to Tuckaway and are unable to hold a crayon yet – either because they are too young or they have not mastered the skill yet. Their parents tell us that they want their child to learn to write his or her name right away. But we know that writing their name is just one step. Muscle development is so important to writing so we manage the steps and processes that enable a child to write his or her name. Strengthening actual physical motor skills to hold a pencil correctly is part of writing a name and it helps prepare them for kindergarten in an important way that is often overlooked,” explains Frances. Tuckaway utilizes teaching strategies that also help children build self-confidence and increase self-esteem, making them eager, ready learners.

Catherine has been with Tuckaway more than 16 years and her passion for teaching children shows.

Preparing for Kindergarten

Some tips to help prepare your child for kindergarten that were offered by the Tuckaway experts include:

  1. Allow your child to develop skills over time, beginning with very basic steps. Don’t always focus on academics alone, but give them a creative environment that encompasses a broad spectrum of learning.
  2. Teach them about “taking turns” and “waiting for your turn”.
  3. Incorporate teaching that involves emotional and behavioral development with every activity.
  4. Include teaching to strengthen motor skills such as holding a crayon or pencil properly.
  5. Help children learn about forming a straight line, staying in line, and following the leader.
  6. Teach children to organize things by sorting, stacking, counting, and other activities.
  7. Help them understand concepts of numbers and letters and not just the academics of counting or reciting their ABC’s.
  8. Encourage children to use story-telling, acting out situations, and creating ideas that utilize the broad spectrum of what they learn.
  9. Use meal time, bath time, and any other daily activities as optimal opportunities to teach academic and behavioral skills such as manners, counting, identifying objects that begin with a specific letter, and other activities.
  10. Help children understand how to transition from one room to another to prepare them for moving from the classroom to the library or lunchroom.
  11. Find ways to enhance self-esteem and build self-confidence to make them eager to learn and demonstrate what they have learned.
  12. Read to children every day and help them learn to recognize words and relate those words to pictures and ideas.
  13. Teach children to listen — which is a big focus for pre-kindergarten programs. Read aloud or tell stories, demonstrate how things work, write on a dry-erase board as they watch, and provide other information that requires them to listen and apply what they hear.
Classrooms are inviting for children.

Frances is proud of how well they are able to care for and teach children at Tuckaway. “We’re a preschool center that can care for your child on a full-time basis. Preparing children for kindergarten is part of our total curriculum and that’s why children from Tuckaway are more prepared than many others who enter the private or public school systems. Addressing and enhancing each individual child’s developmental and learning needs based on where they are in the learning process is our job and our passion.”

“Whether your child attends a Tuckaway Child Development Program or not, it’s vital to find a program that emphasizes both academic and behavioral development equally. It’s one way to give your child an advantage as he or she takes that first step into the halls of kindergarten and beyond,” encourages Catherine.

It’s obvious that Catherine and Frances are right because Tuckaway has been developing kids to excel in kindergarten and beyond for more than 30 years. Some of their students have moved on to attend college, obtain post-graduate degrees, explore the world, and  returned and assumed positions as Tuckaway center directors and teachers.

That says a lot about the integrity and strength of this family-owned, state-of-the-art child development center.

Visit the websitefor more information on kindergarten, pre-school, and other types of child development programs at Tuckaway. Tuckaway is an advertiser of Richmondmom.com.

Watch for an upcoming article on “Is My Child Ready for Kindergarten?”