Schools may still be fine-tuning what classrooms will look like this fall, but one thing is certain: Kindergarten is still forging ahead. This is an exciting time for young girls who are busy packing crayons and markers into a new school box.
Unfortunately, because of the coronavirus pandemic, the majority of these new students will start kindergarten having missed out on a spring kindergarten roundup or summer jump-into-kindergarten program. And that means they missed their first opportunities to practice social and emotional skills, says Amanda Thomas, vice president of customer support with Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan.
“Social and emotional skills include the ability to build relationships with others — and for young girls, especially building relationships with other girls,” Thomas says. “It’s also the ability to express your feelings and opinions in an appropriate way, and having the confidence to be yourself and use your own voice. These are all big things we focus on in Girl Scouts.”
Still time for girls to practice skills for kindergarten
Regardless of whether kindergarten winds up being in-person, virtual or a hybrid of the two, girls may be more confident and successful in those first few days and weeks if they have the opportunity to participate in a kindergarten readiness program. That’s why Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan is offering “Make New Friends,” a four-part virtual event aimed at boosting social and emotional skills, and building kindergarten academic skills. The virtual sessions are free to attend, and girls do not need to be affiliated with Girl Scouts to participate.
“A goal for this series is to provide girls with the chance to fill in the gaps left by those spring or summer programs that didn’t happen because of the current public health situation,” says Thomas. “Each of the four parts has a different focus essential to jumping into kindergarten and is hosted by an expert.”
The one-hour sessions allow girls to ask questions, encourage each other, explore emotions and learn about the value of being persistent in order to achieve their own goals. The first session focuses on language and literacy and engages girls with activities to help recognize the components of a story, how to share comprehension, and how to retell a story in their own words. The second and third sessions are all about science, with activities for making scientific discoveries in their own communities. Science and advanced STEM programming are big priorities for Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan, as the organization works to help young girls see themselves as scientists with inquiring minds.
“The wrap-up session is called ‘Dreaming for Success,’ and it helps girls set age-appropriate goals,” Thomas explains. Parents can choose between different sessions of four meetings each that begin on Aug. 3, Aug. 5 or Sept. 3.
Getting ready for kindergarten is a whole-family event
Because Make New Friends is a virtual event, there’s plenty of room for parents to join in. “We absolutely recommend that parents be involved,” says Thomas. “There is a component for parents and follow-up activities and resources that can help families learn about the benefits of building connections through Girl Scouts, for their daughters and for their whole families.
“During this time, when there is so much going on, we can begin to feel disconnected,” Thomas adds. “Girl Scouts is a great way for families to find others with common interests and build connections to lean on, not only for their daughters but for whole families.”