It’s been almost 3 months! Who’s ready to get the kiddos back in school and out of the house? In my family, our little girl just started pre-school this summer and will be in her pre-k class for a couple of years. She’s only 2.5. I get so excited every day when I pick her up from school and get to hear all about her friends and the new things she learned. While my girl isn’t quite in kindergarten yet, children all across the US are preparing to start their first year of school in just a few short weeks, if they haven’t started already!
While this can be an emotionally overwhelming time for you and your child, why not take a little time to prepare them for the new step in their lives. You might be asking, “how can I prepare my child for kindergarten?” Well, first of all, you can start prepping your son or daughter with the right camp or class. After you’ve done that, here are some teacher-recommended strategies you can try out:
Kindergarten is a Big New World!
Your child will surely be inundated with new people and situations. Social and emotional development is key in helping your little one get through new situations. Here are some ideas that can help you help your child:
- Encourage your child to keep a persistent attitude when performing tasks, by giving them a task that is slightly above their skill level. Then encourage them to ask for help!
- Board games are a great practice tool for turn taking
- Encourage your child to play with children of varying ages whether at the park or on play dates
- Take a break! as parents, we all need time away from our kids, and they need time away from us. Allowing your child to stay for a few hours in the care of another trusted adult can help ease the transition of them being away from you during school hours.
- Let your child know that clean up after play is expected, and reinforce it! One suggestion would be to create a toy ransom box in which if toys are left out, you put them in the toy ransom box and only after a chore or task is done can the child get their toy back!
Yakkety Yak, DO Talk Back!
Communication and vocalization are key when it comes to school. While you don’t want your little one to be the class chatterbox you also probably don’t want them to be deathly afraid of speaking in class or to teachers. Here are some ways to help with language development in children:
- Giving your child clear verbal 1 or 2 step instructions to complete a task is key. Not only will they feel accomplished by having done what was asked of them, their listening and direction following skills will be tested as well!
- Read a story. Reading to your child for at least 20 minutes a day (this can be broken up) helps their listening and memorization skills. Another good exercise: while reading explain the correct way to hold the book and how we read, from left to right.
- It’s never to early to learn to summarize. After you finished the story, see if your little one can tell you what happened at the beginning, middle, and end!
- Draw without borders! Letting your child draw and color on blank paper will help to develop their imagination. Ask them to draw things around them, their favorite stuffed animal, or the family.
- Teach them letters. Teaching your child their letters, both upper and lower case and the sounds they make will help their speaking skills.
This or That? Red or Blue?
Developing cognitive skills is key in preparing for kindergarten. So what exactly is cognition? Cognition is a group of mental processes that includes attention, memory, producing and understanding language, learning, reasoning, problem solving, and decision making. So you can see, it’s a pretty important thing! Cognitive development can be easy and fun, and here’s how:
- Sort the laundry! Have your child help you sort by color, shape and size. Sorting toys, kitchen utensils, and blocks work great too!
- Pattern power! Teach your child to make various patterns. Those little garage sale circle stickers work great. Don’t forget to help them notice patterns in nature, on clothing, and on toys too!
- Practice counting aloud to 20 while driving in the car. Make it a goal to increase by multiples of 10 each week, for an added challenge.
- Teach your child to recognize numerals 1-10.
- The countdown begins. Have your child count things in the home.
- Oh, the shape of things! Have your child point out different shapes, and then teach him some new ones. Shapes are all around us so this one is easy!
- Up or down, in or out. Help your child learn positional awareness as well as opposites. Often, these two things can go hand in hand.
Hey Mom, CATCH!
Physical development means honing those fine and gross motor skills. We’ve all heard talk of fine motor skills and are pretty familiar with that term but not very often do we hear the term gross motor skills. By deduction we can probably answer our own question, “what are gross motor skills?” Well, since fine means manual dexterity typically with the fingers, usually in coordination with the eyes, gross motor skills are the big things, such as learning head control, trunk stability, and then standing up and walking. It is important to nurture and develop both fine and gross motor skills. Check out these ways to help your youngster:
- Outdoor play is important! Give your child plenty of opportunities to run, jump, and climb.
- Playing catch is a great way to develop hand eye coordination. Start when they are young by rolling the ball from a seated position and then move to standing and eventually tossing, as they grow older.
- Skip it! Practicing skipping gets the child used to thinking about which leg is going to skip next.
- I can build it! Stacking blocks is another great hand-eye coordination exercise.
- Cut-it-out! Let your little one use child-safe scissors to cut various shapes. This is also a great time to explain the rules of scissors and what is ok and not ok to cut.
- Write it out! Teach your child to write their name. The parent should write the child’s name in highlighter and then encourage the child to trace over the letters in pencil.
- Check for proper pencil grip.
- Playdough is an awesome tool! Have them roll it, squish it, and cut it.
- Make jewelry. Gather some large beads and string and have your child string the beads. Then when you’re done, wear your beautiful creations.
- Puzzling, isn’t it? Play with a large interlocking puzzle.
Paint Me a Rainbow
Probably one of the most anticipated classes in school, well, at least for me anyway, was art class! What can I say, it’s what I grew up to do as a job. I make graphics and art and express myself through that medium. Some kids are mathematicians, and some are artists. While it’s best that we encourage a well-rounded education, here are some ways you can help inspire your little artist:
- Always encourage pretend time. Why not make it extra special and join in once in a while. Your little princess or ninja will love it!
- Teach your child to recognize colors. My little girl loves colors. She is always pointing them out and can even recognize variations of the same colors.
- Get creative. Use a variety of materials to let your little Picasso create his art. Paints, markers, pencils, heck, even food!
I hope this has given you some things to think about and ways to help your little one conquer their brave new world with a can-do attitude. Let us know some ways you have helped your child prep for school in the comments section!