A Smart Start for Your Graduate
All your days filled with changing diapers will soon be spent bandaging scraped knees. Those
little bundles of joy grow up fast, and everyone has a theory about what’s best for your baby.
Whom do you trust to get them from A to Z? We’ve compiled information from early childhood
experts to help you navigate through the developmental years and beyond as your child moves
from the cradle to college.
Bringing up a college-ready child means making sure his social, emotional and educational
experiences are positive. Your time, attention and love assures them that they’re safe and
ready to succeed. Experts say you can improve your baby’s development by:
• Reading to your baby to help develop language and sound skills.
• Spending quality cuddling time, which helps your baby feel safe.
• Playing gently with your baby when she’s alert and rested.
• Taking care of yourself. Your baby needs you at your best.
Children’s early development is vital to their achievement later in life. Research shows that
the tools your child needs to succeed in college start right from the beginning. Consider the
• From birth to five years old, 90% of your baby’s brain develops.
• Children who aren’t exposed to quality learning experiences by kindergarten find it
challenging to close that achievement gap.
• Oklahoma teachers estimate 30% of students aren’t ready for school.
A guide to succeeding in early
childhood and preparing for college now
School readiness means arriving at school with the
knowledge, skills and physical and emotional health
needed to successfully participate. Children need to be
focused on learning, so it’s essential they come to school
with their basic human needs met, such as food, shelter
and loving, nurturing relationships.
Every child develops at a different pace. Standards for
measuring a child’s readiness for school vary. Experts
agree that children are born ready to learn and what
they learn depends on their experiences. Make sure
you give your child every possible positive learning
Children who have trouble seeing or hearing or have dental problems may find it difficult to
concentrate on classroom activities or homework. Check with your doctor to learn when you
should have your child’s vision, hearing and teeth checked. A child’s ability to participate in the
classroom is also affected by his social and emotional health, including getting along, following
instructions and regulating emotions and behaviors. It’s never too early for your child to learn to
play well with others.
The First Steps: From Cradle to Classroom
• Develops head control by 3 months
• Masters rolling by 4 months
• Learns to sit by 6 months
• Crawls by 7-11 months
• Stands alone for short periods by 13
• Walks by 13-15 months
Six Developmental Milestones:
Making learning a
Focus on the Future
Saving and preparing
early for college
How to go from
cradle to college
On Pages On Pages On Page
5 6 7 8
From Cradle to College is a publication of UCanGo2, the college access initiative
of the Oklahoma College Assistance Program, a division of the Oklahoma State
Regents for Higher Education.
UCanGo2’s mission is to encourage Oklahomans to pursue education beyond high school by demonstrating the
value of higher education, inspiring confidence to support academic achievement, and helping families overcome
barriers to educational access and success.
P. A.S.T.E. Boost infant development with these 5 activities!
Playing With Games and Toys
Playing peek-a-boo with your baby
teaches that things are still there even
if the child can’t see them, how to take
turns and other important lessons.
Get on the floor with your child and
make a pretend house out of a box.
Use your imagination and have fun!
Singing Songs and Rhymes
Raising a child who’s prepared to learn and grow is
a lifelong effort and a rewarding journey for both
you and your child. Beginning from day one, your baby will
discover the importance of learning and being a success
right from home!
By interacting with babies, we teach them how to learn.
Here are a few tips for interacting with infants.
• Hold them, cuddle them and let them see your face.
• Change position and place in the room to give them
new things to look at.
• Talk to them, listen to music and sing to them.
Reading is fundamental because you’re teaching your
child how to hear, speak and recognize sounds and words.
Most importantly, you’re letting your baby learn from
the experience and, as he hears your voice, feel safe and
• Point out colors, shapes and animals.
• Describe the actions of characters in the book.
• Above all, make this a routine time of fun and
Boost your baby’s confidence by
praising her, giving lots of loving
attention and celebrating the new
things she learns. This creates a secure
environment where your baby is happy
and able to develop.
Actively talking to your baby is the
best way for him to learn. Talk to him
even though he can’t talk back. When
your baby makes sounds, answer him
by repeating and adding words; he’ll
respond through his actions.
Encourage your baby to explore
new surroundings. Baby-proof your
house so your baby can explore safely.
Take your baby on walks to explore
buildings, trees, birds and butterflies.
Babies learn by moving and listening,
so sing rhymes or songs that involve
movement. For example, clapping
teaches rhythm and coordination.
Setting an Example
As early as preschool, children can begin learning to set
goals. The key to making college an expectation is helping
your child develop goal-setting skills. Goal setting allows
children to experiment throughout their youth to develop
interests, learn how to dream and achieve those dreams.
Children learn from their parents’
example, and when it comes to
learning about the world of teachers,
homework and classrooms, they look
to you for guidance.
You set the standard for how your
child will view school by acting,
speaking and behaving in a way that
demonstrates to your child that
school is important.
Beginning with preschool, there are a
few things you can do to make school
an institution your child respects.
• Maintain regular attendance
so your child sees that school
is more important than other
• Focus on homework, because
how you deal with homework
now will set a standard for your
child’s entire school career. Good
habits now will pay off later.
• Show respect for school
officials, even if you don’t agree
with them. Solve disputes when
your child isn’t present.
Help your child write or draw his goal. The younger your
child, the more simple and immediate that goal should be.
For example, a goal may be to have macaroni and cheese for
dinner or to make an art project for a friend or relative.
Talk about how your child plans to achieve this goal. What
materials will she need? Who will she need to ask for help
or permission? Write down these steps with your child.
Ask your child to consider the obstacles he might face
and how to overcome them. For example, if macaroni and
cheese is the goal, what happens if there isn’t any cheese
in the refrigerator?
Set deadlines with your child. This will teach her to estimate
how long a task might take. Place the written or drawn
plan in a visible location and check in with your child to
see if she’s taking steps toward achieving the goal.
It’s never too early to start talking about college in the home,
even if you weren’t able to go. Talking about college as a natural
part of the education process will help make education after
high school an expectation. Remember, children learn by
example, so if you pursued education after high school, share
that with your child. Even if your experiences weren’t always
positive, talking about it can help your child learn from you.
allow money to be an obstacle to college.
Though it may be a challenge, with all the
higher education options and financial
aid available, almost any student can go
talk about college as an option only for
certain people with certain academic
abilities. Everyone is college material,
and there is an option that matches
everyone’s goals, needs and abilities.
doubt your child’s abilities. He’ll sense
your doubts and make them his own.
discourage their dreams. Though being
a Hollywood actress or rock star may
seem impractical or unobtainable now,
these goals help children either learn
how to achieve the impossible or learn
how to set realistic goals.
talk about the future and expect college to
be a part of that future.
start saving early and involve your child in
use the words, “When you go to
college,” making it an aspiration and an
make sure your child is reaching
developmental milestones and receiving
health screenings to ensure there are no
physical barriers to success.
visit local college campuses throughout
childhood for sporting events and activities
to make campus a familiar setting for your
encourage your child to set goals and
discuss what she wants to be when she
grows up and how to make that goal a
make homework a priority in your home.
Here are a few do’s and don’ts for talking about college:
Savvy Saving Starts Now
If your baby is still in diapers, congratulations! This is the best time to start saving for a college
education. You have years before your child begins college, so there’s a magical component on
your side: compound interest.
As demonstrated in the chart below, if you save only $30 a month starting the month your child
is born, you’ll have $10,476 in 18 years. That’s an impressive amount of money for a monthly deposit
you won’t likely miss from your bank account. Remember, even if your child
needs more than $10,000 for college, saving now will put you ahead of the
game. Don’t forget that there are federal student loans, scholarships, financial
aid programs and part-time jobs to help your child pay for her education.
If the thought of eventually paying for your child’s college education seems
daunting, take action. Start now by putting a modest amount each month into
an account and adding more as your finances allow. Remember, you have time
(and compound interest) on your side.
THE 529 PLAN
Parents have options for maximizing their education savings. A 529 college
savings plan offers a simple way to save money for your child’s college
education. Each state is different; however, one of the key elements to a 529
plan is that you pay no taxes on the account’s earnings.
The Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan offers several advantages,
• an Oklahoma tax deduction
• a choice of investment options
• funds can be used at thousands of higher education institutions in the U.S. and abroad
For more information about Oklahoma’s 529 College Savings Plan, call 1.877.OK4SAVING
(1.877.654.7284) (toll-free) or visit www.ok4saving.org.
to age 18
to age 18
to age 18
to age 18
Birth $6,984 $10,476 $17,460 $34,920
5 Years Old $4,382 $6,573 $10,955 $21,911
10 Years Old $2,355 $3,532 $5,887 $11,774
15 Years Old $785 $1,163 $1,938 $3,875
College Savings Forecast
Focus on the Future
Q: If my child doesn’t go
to college, what happens
to the money in my 529
A. You can transfer the
account to another
beneficiary within the
same family or you can
withdraw the funds.
If you withdraw the
funds, be prepared to
pay a hefty tax penalty.
Consult your tax adviser
for more information.
Do you remember the person you dreamed of
becoming when you grew up? Did you dream of being a
firefighter or a teacher or president of the United States?
Imagine if you could go back and revisit all your dream
jobs when you first chose your career
path. That’s what a dreambook can
do for your child.
Anytime your child expresses
an interest in a job, hobby or field
of interest, sit down with her
and cut out pictures or words
that represent that dream.
Paste those pictures into
By the time your
child is ready to pick a career, she’ll have a lifetime of
dreams to look back on. It may help her to choose a
career path that leads to true fulfilment.
Discover the promise of FREE college tuition!
Oklahomans want to see deserving students
succeed – students who study and work hard, but
whose families find it difficult to afford college. If
your child dreams of going to college and works to
achieve it, then Oklahoma’s Promise can help make
it a reality!
Remember to apply in 8th, 9th or 10th grade. Be sure
to review the qualifications at www.okpromise.org.
What to Expect
From Financial Aid
Saving for college is the best way
to guarantee your student will
be able to afford it. But when your
savings aren’t enough, financial aid
can help fill the gap. These guidelines
can help your student pay for college
when it’s time.
1. Free money first! Grants and
scholarships are best for the
student, because they don’t have
to be repaid.
2. Let the savings pay off. Use
the money you saved for college
to pay costs that grants and
scholarships don’t cover.
3. Use federal assistance for
the rest. Work-study programs
and federal student loans can
help cover college expenses.
Student loans will need to be
repaid, but federal loans have
low interest rates and flexible
To learn more about federal financial
aid, go to www.ucango2.org.
Focus on the
866.443.7420 • 405.234.4239
Oklahoma College Savings Plan
Oklahoma Money Matters
800.970.OKMM • 405.234.4243
Oklahoma State Regents for Higher
800.858.1840 • 405.225.9239
Did You Know?
Early Childhood Resources
Paying for College Resources
Federal Student Aid
FastWeb Scholarship Search
Smart Start Oklahoma
866.283.0987 • 405.278.6978
Oklahoma Child Care
888.962.2772 • 405.942.5001
Oklahoma Parents as Teachers
Child Guidance, Oklahoma State Department of Health
800.522.0203 • 405.271.4477
Oklahoma Family Network
877.871.5072 • 405.271.5072
Adults without a high school
diploma earn an average
of $18,734 per year; those
with a high school diploma
earn $27,915 and those with
a bachelor’s degree earn an
average of $51,206.
Only one student out of every
10,000 gets a “free ride” to
college, so it’s important to
apply for all types of aid.
About 90% of Oklahoma’s
bachelor’s degree recipients
remain in the state after
The Oklahoma’s Promise
scholarship pays for tuition at
any Oklahoma public college
and a portion of tuition for
some private institutions.
Students must sign up in 8th,
9th or 10th grade.
The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, in
compliance with Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights
Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, Title
IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Americans
with Disabilities Act of 1990 and other federal laws and
regulations, do not discriminate on the basis of race, color,
national origin, sex, age, religion, handicap or status as a
veteran in any of its policies, practices or procedures. This
includes but is not limited to admissions, employment,
financial aid and educational services. This publication,
printed by OU Printing Services, is issued by the Oklahoma
State Regents for Higher Education, as authorized by 70
O.S. 2001, Section 3206. 15,000 copies have been printed at
a cost of approximately $2,790. Copies have been deposited
with the Publications Clearinghouse of the Oklahoma
Department of Libraries. This publication was produced
in August 2011.
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