Get set for kindergarten with healthy teeth!

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In the third part of the Mint Hill Library’s four-part Get Set 4 K summer series, Miss Jackie focused on a topic that’s hopefully already familiar to most rising kindergarteners: keeping their teeth healthy.

Most five-year-olds are already familiar with brushing their teeth, but many of those in attendance confessed that they only brush before bed. Miss Jackie encouraged them to brush their teeth twice a day and also discussed the importance of flossing. Miss Jackie provided an innovative way for the children to practice flossing using Mega Blocks and string.

Children used Mega Blocks and yarn to practice flossing.

Miss Jackie’s presentation was structured much like the library’s story time programming and featured two stories about teeth and visiting the dentist. The first story was Alan’s Big Scary Teeth by Jarvis, the story of an alligator with false teeth. Miss Jackie used the story to begin talking to the children about tooth health, asking them what happened to Alan’s real teeth and why they fell out.

The second story featured was Adria Klein’s “easy reader” Max Goes to the Dentist. Miss Jackie used this story not only to talk to the children about the importance of regular dental visits but also to point parents in the direction of the easy reader section located directly opposite the library’s Community Room.

Children cut foods from the newspaper and decided if they were good or bad for their teeth.

Miss Jackie’s presentation also included several different craft activities. First, children cut pictures of foods from newspaper advertisements and glued them to a picture of a smiling or frowning tooth to show if the foods were good or bad for their teeth. In addition to helping children to understand what foods are beneficial and detrimental to their dental health, this activity also gave them the opportunity to use scissors, which Miss Jackie pointed out is an important skill for developing the fine motor skills necessary for learning proper handwriting in kindergarten. Children also made a mouth out of construction paper and marshmallow “teeth.”

Children used marshmallow “teeth” to make a mouth.

Focusing on your teeth might seem like a strange way to get ready for school, but it’s an important part of the larger health and wellness concerns to consider when your child is starting kindergarten. Miss Jackie notes that physicals and immunizations get a lot of attention when children start or return to school, but particularly at the start of kindergarten when children are starting to lose their baby teeth, dental health is just as important.

There are also several health and wellness-related skills you can practice with your child at home before he or she enters school in the fall. For example, you can work with your child on describing how he feels physically. Being able to describe symptoms when he is sick instead of saying “I feel bad” will help doctors to diagnose illnesses correctly. You can also work on personal care with your child, encouraging him to use the bathroom, wash his hands, brush his teeth, use a tissue, and get dressed independently.

At this age, it’s also important to address safety concerns with your children. Now that your child will be spending more time away from you, make sure he knows not to talk to strangers and whom to go to for help if needed. Your child should also know his own first and last name and the first and last names of parents or guardians.

At the end of the presentation, each child made a construction paper toothbrush that reminded him of the three easy things he can do to keep his teeth healthy: eat good foods, brush twice a day, and floss. Everyone left Miss Jackie’s presentation with a toothbrush and a set of smiley face stickers to fill in their tooth brushing chart.

Miss Jackie helped everyone make a construction paper toothbrush to remind them to brush and floss daily.

The final Get Set 4 K presentation will take place Tuesday, July 25 in the Community Room. Visit the Mint Hill Library’s web site to register beginning July 18.

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Mary Beth Foster
Mary Beth Foster works part time as an essay specialist at Charlotte Latin School and full time as a mom to her eight-year-old daughter Hannah and her six-year-old son Henry. Prior to having children, she worked as a high school English teacher for nine years. Most recently, she chaired the English department at Queen's Grant High School. She and her husband have lived in Mint Hill with their children and their cats since 2011. Email: