Getting Ready for Kindergarten
You have a very important role in your child’s education. In fact, your child has been learning since birth and you’ve been teaching from the very start! Following are some suggestions for preparing your child to start kindergarten:
- Set aside a regular time to read with your child every day. Studies show that regularly reading aloud helps improve comprehension and increases a child’s vocabulary. He’ll also learn that books are fun and will want to read himself. When reading (and re-reading) favorite books, ask your child to use the pictures to retell the story. Extend the story by asking “what would happen if…” Help your child get his own library card and check out books.
- Use conversation to build your child’s vocabulary. Through everyday conversation, expose your child to new words and talk about what words mean. For an unfamiliar word, explain it in a child-friendly way. For a familiar word, introduce a less familiar word with the same meaning. Relating new words to your child’s personal experience also supports vocabulary development.
- Look for opportunities to teach your child numbers and letters. Make a game of it together. For example, count the people or dogs you see during a walk. Ask your child to find numbers or letters in signs. Help your child learn the letters of the alphabet in order and out of sequence. Use magnet letters or letters on cards to spell her name and other familiar words. Practice copying and writing letters.
- Help your child develop important observation and conversation skills. During errands, talk about what you see and do at the post office, grocery store, or bank. Share family stories. Make the most of time on the road. Point out words and symbols on signs. Ask your child to find letters and numbers on billboards and license plates. Sing songs together. Keep favorite books in the car.
- Play rhyming games, sing songs, share nursery rhymes, and enjoy rhyming and repeating books. All of those help your child develop early literacy skills. Rhyming words help children recognize sounds and syllables, skills children need when they are learning to sound out new words.
- Encourage your kindergartner’s natural love for learning with praise. Recognize her curiosity and hard work.
- Prepare your child for a full-day learning experience away from home, especially if your child has not been part of a formal Pre-K program. Summer is a good time to help your child get used to a more structured, school-like schedule and spending time with other caregivers.
- Set expectations for appropriate school behavior. Kindergartners love to move and enthusiastic learners like to share what they’re learning. However, being in school also means learning when to move and when to share. Make sure your child understands the importance of following classroom rules, and knows that you expect good behavior throughout the school day.
- Encourage activities that involve sharing, turn- taking, listening, following directions, and taking part in conversations. Children playing and sharing with others builds important skills that will be used throughout the school day.
- Use everyday activities to help your child develop fine motor skills. Any time children use both hands to complete an activity, they are working on fine motor skills that will help them become proficient writers in school. Building with LEGOs, stringing cereal on a piece of yarn, playing with Play-Doh, and cutting with child-safe scissors all will help your child learn to write! Encourage your child to draw and write using pencils, crayons, markers, finger paint, sidewalk chalk, even in sand or flour.
- Have your child help with chores, such as matching socks, feeding pets, or setting the table. Your child can help with simple recipes in the kitchen or kid-friendly yard work.
- Teach your child to handle personal needs, such as going to the bathroom without help, washing his hands, blowing his nose, feeding himself, tying his shoes, and buttoning and zipping his clothes. Until your child has mastered tying shoelaces, consider athletic shoes that slip on or have other fasteners for school days.
- Encourage healthy habits, such as eating nutritious foods, getting ample rest, having a regular bedtime, waking up on time, and being physically active.
- Monitor screen time if your child watches TV or uses a computer or other digital device. Educational programs and computer games provide important learning opportunities. However, they are no substitute for “face time” with family members and caregivers. That said, knowing how to use a computer, mouse, and keyboard are important skills that you and your child can practice together. Help your child make good choices when selecting television programs. Limit the amount of TV he watches
- Encourage your child to share her thoughts and feelings about starting kindergarten.