Parenting Q & A

Ellen Barrett, a parent educator at Heights Parent Center for the last 12 years, fields questions from parents about the daily ups and downs of parenting. The same issues impact many parents.  If you have questions you would like Ellen to respond to in this column, please e-mail her at 

Q.  For several reasons my husband and I have decided not to send our almost three-year-old to preschool next year. It seems like most kids today get some kind of formal school before kindergarten and I am worried about him not being ready for school when he gets to kindergarten. Will he be behind the other kids?

A.  Many families do not send their child to preschool for either financial reasons or personal choice. Parents and caregivers can provide many opportunities for children to learn the skills needed for kindergarten at home and around town.

Here are some examples of simple ways to build literacy skills in your child (and have fun together) every day: 

  • Build powers of observation by asking your child questions about the landscape as you walk around the block, "Show me the white houses on the street." 
  • Sharpen sentence structure and listening skills by having your child complete a sentence, such as, "That green truck is (very noisy, going slow, the same color as my jacket)."
  • Develop sorting, matching and contrasting skills by involving him in household tasks. Have your child match pairs of socks or ask whose shirt is bigger.                                                     
  • Develop descriptive skills by using the grocery store for a good game of I Spy. "I spy something red, round, juicy and tastes good in pie!"

In addition to literacy, socialization is an important skill that children need to develop. Make sure you give your child opportunities to play with other children in settings other than your own home. There are many inexpensive ways for families to do this. Be sure to take advantage of all the local resources, such as museums, libraries, Family Connections and the Heights Parent Center. Visit HPC’s free Family Literacy Playroom, Little Heights, located at the Lee Road Library. Playing with your child at Little Heights will reinforce school readiness skills and build vocabulary that will set your child up for success.  

Read More on "Got kids?" Corner
Volume 3, Issue 2, Posted 11:02 AM, 01.19.2010