Over 40 preschool teachers, parents, childcare professionals and college students were in attendance to hear from professionals about how to prepare young children for kindergarten.
Presenters for the event were East Side Elementary kindergarten teacher Lisa Coughanowr, Jackson Township Elementary kindergarten teacher Rae Anne Howald and Natalie Pugh, the child care resource and referral manager for the Community Alliances and Services for Young Children (CASY).
Coughanowr and Howald spoke about the importance of kindergarten students reaching academic standards set by the Indiana Department of Education. Both teachers said the best way to promote learning in children before they attend kindergarten is to play with them in ways that get them to learn.
Coughanowr and Howald said children learn through everyday activities and toys like Play-Doh, sidewalk chalk, coloring, reading books and more.
"If you make learning fun for children," Howald said, "they'll be more excited about it."
Coughanowr, Howald and Pugh all emphasized the importance of children understanding the basics of conversation, fair play, following directions and other key social skills that will help students adapt to school and learning easily.
"The more experiences a child has before coming to school, the better they'll perform," Coughanowr said.
Both teachers emphasized the importance of parents and guardians instilling confidence in them regarding their education and being excited about the possibilities of learning.
"If you encourage them," Coughanowr said, "they'll be eager to learn and keep going."
Pugh spoke about how important development is in children from birth to 5-years-old.
"All children develop at a different rate and in different ways," Pugh said. "Children learn at different capacities."
Pugh said children begin learning from the moment they are born, or even earlier, and that children have to be socially and emotionally sound in order to learn.
"We need to encourage children to play as much as possible throughout the day," Pugh said. "It's during play that they learn motor skills, social skills and more. There's opportunity to learn in every day activities. We need to emphasize play that has purpose and intent."
Dinner from Harmony Diner was provided at the event, and door prizes were also given to guests.