As the summer winds down and the school year approaches, it is time to begin preparing your child for the upcoming school year. This year my son will start Kindergarten. As a Kindergarten teacher I know that his academic readiness is not based on how well he can or can not read, but his ability to function in a classroom environment. These are the skills that are essential to helping your child become successful in Kindergarten.
Kindergarten is no longer about taking naps and snack time. In fact students in Kindergarten do not take naps anymore, and in a lot of schools across the country they do not have centers to work and pretend play in. Kindergarten in 2016 is the equivalent to first grade in 80’s, except the children are younger. In fact the first month of Kindergarten is usually spent trying to acclimate students to the long days, which include sitting and listening, comprehending, and independently completing work. Preparing your child for Kindergarten is actually easy. There are a few simple ways to ensure your child is ready.
1. Academic Skills
By the end of Kindergarten your child should be able to read a book similar to this:
It may seem like a simple passage to read, but if your child does not recognize any letters of the alphabet, or know any letter sounds, or know the difference between words and pictures, then it will take a lot of work to get them to this point. When your child enters Kindergarten they should at least be able to
- Recognize the letters in their name: They should know both the uppercase and lowercase letters in their name
- Write their name: The should write with the first letter uppercase and the rest lowercase letters.
- Count to at least 20 in correct order:
- Count at least objects by touching each one
- Understand simple books concepts; ie locating the front, and back of the book, Know where the words are in the book, and that the words are for reading and the pictures show what the words are telling us.
- Simple comprehension skills and the ability to listen to a story for at least 10 minutes.
2. Social and Emotional Skills
While in Kindergarten your child will learn how to work in teams and share with others, but they need to have a basic understanding of how to interact and work in a social environment.
- Keep your hands to yourself: No hitting or excessive touching of others
- Expressing needs and wants: This is really important. Most schools are overcrowded, and I teach in a classroom that does not have a bathroom! I have set bathroom times throughout the day, and my students can go whenever they need to, BUT they have to tell me they need to go. I have watched children do the pee-pee dance because they are holding it. I tell them and their parents they can use the bathroom anytime but they just need to ask. Expressing wants and needs also extends to lunch time. Sometimes students will not eat/drink because they couldn’t open something and they did not ask.
- Saying No! Children at this age sometimes hit, or do not play nicely.Children need to know how to tell someone to stop, leave them alone, and walk away. AND this skill should be taught not just for school, but for life! Teach your child to know the difference between right and wrong and when someone does something they do not like then they tell them NO!!! LOUDLY!!! And walk away.
- The ability to follow multi-step directions: If you ask your child to brush their teeth, wash their face, make sure the sink is clean and then turn the light out in the bathroom, can they do all 4 steps? Your child should be able to follow at least 3 step directions when they get to Kindergarten. If they can not play games like Simon Says, or begin giving them 3 step directions when they get dressed in the morning. Gradually increase until they can follow multi-step directions.
- The ability to learn: What does that mean? It means that your child needs to know how to learn, that they know how to pay attention when someone is reading to them, that they can learn new concepts and begin to apply them.To help your child’s ability to learn, teach them something (read a short passage,work oncounting skills, or letter recongition, or ask them to tell you a story) everyday for about 10 minutes. It does not matter if they fidget the whole time, see if they are listening. Can they answer simple questions about what they are hearing and doing?
- Tying shoes: Practice now. Your child will come home with untied shoes. Truthfully I can not spend my day trying 25 shoes, every hour. If your child can not tie their shoes, either buy velcro, teach them to tuck their laces in their shoes, teach them to not untie their shoes throughout the day or teach them how to tie their laces.
- Fastening and Unfastening clothes: Your child should be able to unfasten their clothes so they can go to the bathroom. They should also be able to change their clothes independently in case of an accident.
Most importantly parents, know your child. I know what my son can and can not do. I know what adjustments he will have to work through to function and learn in an new environment. I am an advocate for my child and I am want to make sure he succeeds. If you are looking for more information on how to prepare your child for Kindergarten, or a checklist each state has a checklist available. Here is the one for North Carolina where we live.
How are you preparing your child for Kindergarten? Please share and comment below! Thanks for reading