My sister, who is a kindergarten teacher, has offered this advice to parents (and grandparents) of children who will be starting kindergarten soon. Having these skills helps children as they enter kindergarten and begin their academic future. She adds that these skills are in no way a requirement for enrollment, but will prepare your child (or grandchild) for enjoying his or her first official classroom experience.
The Top 2:
- Make sure your child knows the alphabet. Knowing the alphabet isn’t just singing “the ABC’s” (although that helps, too), it means being able to look at the letter and know what it is called. The most important letters to a kindergartener are the letters in his or her name.
- Can your child count to 10? Knowing how to count will give kindergarteners a leg-up on learning. You can practice number skills with your student-in-the-making by counting ordinary things out loud with them like blocks, cars, stairs, and steps. Most kindergarteners should know how to count to 10 the first day of class.
Items 3 through 10 will enhance your child’s preparedness to learn.
Can your child:
- Dress themselves? Tie their shoes? Zip or button their coat? Take care of toilet needs independently? By having these basic skills before coming to school, a student will be ready to focus on learning while in class.
- Skip and gallop? Having fundamental motor skills, like knowing how to jump and hop, will translate into a desire to interact with others, another great way to learn.
- Stay engaged all day without a nap? Let’s face it, sometimes we all would like a nap – but being refreshed means you are ready to learn. Make sure your child gets the appropriate amount of sleep at night.
- Use scissors and cut on a line? Stay within the lines when coloring? Identify the names of basic colors? While testing has become more and more of the focus for our school-age children (yes, even in kindergarten), it’s still important to be able to express yourself by creating – an essential element of learning
- Pay attention to a short story when it is read and tell a brief story from a picture? Study after study shows that children who are read to are better learners and thus more successful in school. Try having your kindergartener “read” to you by telling you about a picture.
- Put together a simple puzzle of five to 10 pieces? Being able to fit things together into a larger picture is rewarding and encourages young children to try and try again.
- Talk in four- to six-word sentences? Talking is expressing one’s thoughts – a critical component of learning.
- Cross a residential street safely? Being aware of others and knowing how to be safe are valuable lessons that all children should know.
So, if you want your soon-to-be kindergarten student prepared for that first day (and beyond), work with them on the above checklist. They will then be ready to learn and enjoy kindergarten – which is, after all, the first step in a life-long adventure.