There are so many things you can do at home to help prepare your child for kindergarten. As a veteran kindergarten teacher, I know I will have students with all skill levels enter our classroom on the first day of school. Don’t stress over what your child doesn’t know. What they don’t know, they will soon learn!
Here are some things you can do to help your child make the transition easier. Let your child explore. Give them paper and crayons/markers or watercolors and let them color and paint. These are super important for building fine motor skills. It saddens me to see children come to school and have never held a pencil, colored with crayons, or cut with scissors. I know it can be scary, but it is so important that children are given these opportunities. Create a cutting tub where you have tissue paper inside and they are only allowed to cut the tissue paper. Make sure they are cutting with children’s scissors that are created to fit their little hands. By doing these things, hand muscles get stronger and because of this, they will be better writers.
Provide your child with a problem and allow him/her to come up with a solution. If you have multiple children this is probably done daily as they argue over the same toy. Teach your child to use their words to say “I don’t like it when you…”or “It makes me feel…”. This helps them to be their own problem solver.
Putting together puzzles is another great way of problem solving. Teach your child that they don’t have to finish right away. It’s okay to work on it and come back later. Frustration is a feeling that children struggle with just like adults. It’s something they will encounter more when they are in a classroom with 20+ other children. Help them learn to calm themselves when they get frustrated and talk about how they feel.
Play with play-doh. Again, another great tool to build fine motor skills. Building up those little hand muscles is so important. Let them roll it, cut it, and even make their name out of it. Look up a recipe online and let your child make it with you.
Teach your child to play classic games, such as Go Fish, Old Maid, Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, Connect 4, etc... Games are a great way to teach children to take turns and learn that it’s okay not to win every time. Instill in them that it is important that they try their best and have fun. Children are consumed with technology. Board games are a nice change and challenge them to think. Give it a try. You loved it. They will too!
Give your child responsibility. They can handle it...I promise! It always makes me giggle when I tell parents that in our classroom everyone works and everyone cleans. There are always parents who tell me good luck with that, but I have never met a child who refused to do their part in taking care of our classroom. Picking up their toys, setting the table, bringing laundry into the laundry room are all things they are capable of doing.
Practice counting. Count chairs at the table, doors on the car, really anything and everything. Don’t make it hard on yourself or stressful. Everything you do in your everyday life can be a lesson.
Practice multi-step directions. For example: Go to your room and get your teddy bear. Listening is something that needs to be practiced just like anything else.
Talk to your child about everything. Discuss the names of items, what color it is, what sound it starts with. There are so many things children can learn in short conversations.
Show them the letters in their name. Tell them the names of the letters and let them try to write them. You can do this in fun ways. For example: spray shaving cream on your kitchen counter and practice writing their name in the shaving cream. Kids love that!
Allow your child to play with blocks and Legos. Building and engineering things takes skill. They have to think, problem solve, and it builds those fine motor skills.
Let your child play outside. Running, jumping on the trampoline, playing tag, running through the sprinkler-these are all great ways to build gross/large motor skills. Outdoor play is an important and big part of kindergarten. Children are losing their ability to participate in imaginary play because they are constantly participating in a virtual world. Let them play with other children too. This is such an important part of social emotional development.
These last things really go without saying, but…PLEASE teach your little one to tie his/her shoes, button/zip clothing, and practice putting items in and taking items out of his/her backpack. Practice opening food packages/containers, juiceboxes, waterbottle caps, so your child is independent during lunch time in the cafeteria.
Teach your child important things like his/her first and last name, your name, your address, and phone number.
Lastly, if you haven't cracked open a book, now is a great time to start. Sit and read to your child as often as possible. Just like adults, children have to build stamina for everything. It takes practice for children to be able to sit through listening to a story. Ask questions about the story. Who were the characters in the story? What happened in the story? What did this story make you think of? This is also a great way to spend quality time with your child.
It doesn’t matter if you conquer one thing on this list or the entire thing, your child will do GREAT when they come to kindergarten. If you are worried, don’t let them know. Children share our stress and if you are fearful, they will be too. Share with them how exciting it is to go to school, meet new friends, and learn new things. Again, whatever they don’t know, they will learn. Every child is different and they each learn at their own pace. They will never learn if you don’t let them try. You will be surprised how much a five/six year old is able to do on their own once the correct behavior has been modeled to them and they have been given the opportunity to practice.
Parents, you just wait...your child is going to knock your socks off and before you know it, they will be off to first grade!Welcome to an amazing and successful year of kindergarten-Mrs. Fields :-)