Westwood Presbyterian Church Preschool Uses Dance to Further Ensure Kindergarten Readiness

Westwood African Class.JPG

Kindergarten readiness. It’s a global topic that has been studied and debated for decades. Early on, “readiness” primarily focused on a child’s ability to perform cognitive tasks and demonstrate literacy. In the 1990s, however, this definition expanded to include other important developmental areas, such as motor skills, physical health and disposition toward learning. Today, kindergarten readiness emphasizes proficiency in five core areas:

1.     Language and literacy

2.     Cognition and general knowledge

3.     Approaches to learning

4.     Physical well-being and motor skills

5.     Social and emotional development

Mastering readiness indicators in these key areas suggest that a child is equipped to begin formal education. Research studies have found that inadequate ability in these areas can potentially impact future educational attainment, employment and mental health that can continue through adulthood. 

Since the education system has raised the bar for kindergarten readiness, there’s a greater need for quality preschool programs. 

“The main challenge for preschools is the changing expectations of what young children should be able to do when they arrive in kindergarten,” says Sophie Robertson, Westwood Presbyterian Church Preschool director. “Since schools have become increasingly academic, preschools have to respond to parents' anxieties about their child being ready. This means that preschools constantly have to balance the emphasis on social-emotional development and their play-based philosophy with the need to get children ready for higher expectations of ability in subjects like literacy and numeracy.”

Founded in 1960, Westwood Presbyterian Church (WPC) Preschool aims to successfully prepare its students for the transition to kindergarten by deepening their understanding of the world around them and building essential life and learning skills. WPC Preschool has also adopted a creative approach to further ensure readiness by partnering with Monik’s Creative Movement (MCM).

“We’ve worked with Monik’s Creative Movement for the past 20 years. Their dance program offers children another way to develop essential skills and another modality for learning,” says Sophie. “Dance also provides an additional creative outlet for our students and is an essential contributor to achieving our goal of developing the whole child.”

MCM creates comprehensive, customized curriculum that supports classroom learning and foundational skill development. MCM works closely with the teaching staff at WPC Preschool to identify where certain children need extra support and specific skill growth. Curriculum touches on core subjects, including art, history and culture. The goal is to use creative movement and music to enhance gross motor skills, spatial awareness, numeracy, teamwork skills, and observation skills among others that are necessary for future success inside and outside the classroom.

“MCM is important to our teaching team and school community,” adds Sophie. “Their program is an essential part of our curriculum, broadening and deepening our children's daily experiences.”

Monik Jones