Kindergarten is the very beginning of your child’s academic career. It is the place where they will learn the alphabet, how to count, how to follow direction, art skills, and all sorts of other fun stuff. To make sure your child starts out his or her academic career with all the advantages possible, you need to make sure your child has a handful of skills before starting kindergarten.
While kindergarten is the place for academic learning, it can’t hurt to prepare your child by familiarizing him or her with the academic building blocks. Your child should be familiar with the alphabet and with numbers. The alphabet song is easy to learn, and you should teach it to your child. Once they know the alphabet you can show them the shapes of the letters. During reading time you can show how letters make words while you read their favorite book.
You should also work on numbers. While children aren’t expected to be able to operate with numbers, it is a good idea if they have some concept of numbers and can count to ten.
Knowing colors and shapes are two other academic skills that will give young students a head start. Make kindergarten as easy on your child as possible by making sure they are familiar with these basic concepts before heading off to school.
Practice big motor skills like skipping, jumping, and walking backwards with your child. Make a game out of things like standing on one foot to teach balance.
You will also want to practice fine motor skills. It’s great practice for children to trace drawn figures and practice coloring inside of the lines. You can teach your children to use the basic tools of kindergarten by doing some crafts in the home.
Kids should go into kindergarten knowing how to color with crayons, cut with scissors, and use paste (and not eat it). Practice both big and little motor skills with your kindergartner so that they are able to perform the tasks that they will need once they start kindergarten.
Your child should be pretty much able to take care of his or her self by the first day of kindergarten. They should be able to dress themselves, including tying their own shoes. They should also be able to use the bathroom themselves (both #1 and #2). As a part of independence, you should teach your child your phone number. If anything ever really goes wrong you want your child to be able to get a hold of you. A part of teaching independence is teaching your child to ask for what they need. Practice raising hands to ask questions. Also, practice getting their backpacks packed and unpacked.
Your child should enter kindergarten with some social skills. They should be able to initiate contact with other children. If your kids aren’t in play groups or preschool you can take them to places where kids play, like parks, to get them ready to interact with other children.
Besides knowing how to initiate contact, your child should know how to play with others. This includes taking turns and sharing. You want your children to have had enough practice with other kids that they learn how to handle anger and disappointment.
Your child should enter kindergarten with an understanding that hitting, biting, or kicking is never appropriate. Teach your child what to do if another child is physically aggressive with them.
When you sign your child up for kindergarten, you should receive a “Kindergarten Readiness Checklist” that details what is expected in your particular school. Work on the items on the checklist and go over the items with the child. They should know what is expected of them and it will be reassuring when they can mark everything off the checklist.