Kindergarten is an exciting step in every child, and parent’s, life. As the big day gets closer, it’s important that we, as parents, do what we can to prepare our child for kindergarten. Ideally, your child will have gained many important kindergarten skills throughout their early childhood. Having worked in the field of education, mainly in early childhood including kindergarten summer readiness programs, I’ve worked to compile a list of tips parents can follow to help children be prepared for kindergarten.
First and foremost, your child will have major gains simply by you reading to him or her daily. Make is a habit to read together several times a day (Supporting Literacy During the Preschool Years). Here are 10 tips that will help your child be prepared as they walk into kindergarten on the first day of school:
- Social skills: A principal I recently spoke with stressed that social skills are just as important, if not more important, than academic skills for children entering kindergarten. At kindergarten age, your child should be able to follow basic rules such as keeping in her own personal space, pay attention for time spans such as stories, and be able to follow basic rules.
- Identifying shapes: Your child should be able to identify basic shapes: square, circle, oval, triangle, rectangle, star and heart.
- Be able to separate from parents: Prepare your child for separating from you by leaving him with a babysitter or enrolling him in a preschool program a few days a week. It’s important that your child feel comfortable being with other children and adults.
- Name skills: Identifying her name in writing, identifying the letters in her name and being able to write her name are skills kindergarten teachers are looking for. When you are teaching your child his name, be sure to write it using only the first letter capitalized and the rest lowercase. For example, instead of teaching the name written as MATT, teach it Matt. For help teaching letter identification through play, read this article: 13 Ways to Learn Letters Without Flashcards.
- Number knowledge: Basic number knowledge helpful for children entering kindergarten are: being able to count to 10, being able to count 5 objects using one-to-one correspondence (naming one number for each object as it’s counted), identifying numbers 1-5, and matching numbers 1-5 with that number of objects. There are lots of fun ways to work on math skills in this article 15 Ways to Make Math Part of Your Day with Preschoolers.
- Scissor skills: Many children enter kindergarten never having held a pair of scissors! Provide opportunities for your child to use scissors at home. If you are adamantly against your child using scissors that cut at home, invest in play dough scissors. Play dough scissors will allow your child to practice those essential cutting and fine motor skills with the safety of not being able to cut their hair. 🙂
- Rhyming: Rhyming is an essential pre-reading skill. Read books with rhyming, sing rhyming songs or play rhyming games with your child to encourage rhyming skill development.
- Identifying colors: Your child should be able to identify basic colors: red, blue, yellow, green, purple, orange, black, brown and white. Playing games like Candy Land and identifying colors throughout the day (such as “Let’s put on your green coat”) will help your child with color skills.
- Cooperative play: Give your child opportunities to play with other children his age. Try to let him work out social conflicts on his own without having to jump in.
- Self-help skills: It’s important that your child be able to do things such as use the bathroom independently, pack her backpack, feed herself and put on her own coat.