It’s the time of year when schools are launching their kindergarten registrations. Kindergarten will be your child’s first journey into formal education. Today’s world seems to put a lot of pressure on parents to make sure their child is ready with the skills needed for school. Are you feeling the pressure? Relax and take a breath. Even though helping children be ready for school can feel like a big job, there are lots of daily family interactions that are fun and skill building for your soon-to-be kindergartner.
Your child will enter kindergarten still learning and mastering specific skills. They don’t need to know it all before the first day. One of the important things is that your child is ready to learn. Here are a few ways to foster school readiness:
- Talk to your child but don’t forget to listen.
- Play games requiring listening with 2-step directions.
- Use music and rhyme.
- Look for language in the house, the drive, the grocery store and other places to hunt for letters and words.
- Talk about kindergarten. Share excitement for learning.
- Look for math all around us. What numbers did you see on the drive today?
- Let your child help you cook. Measuring is math.
- What could your child count today?
- Use math words like more or less, smallest, biggest.
- The world is filled with shapes. Did you stop at a STOP sign today?
Gross Motor Skills (larger muscles)
- Be active with your child.
- Provide opportunities for your child to run, jump, skip and hop on one foot.
Fine Motor Skills: (smaller muscles)
- Provide school tools to use at home: pencils, crayons, and child-scissors.
- Use old magazines for cutting practice and matching letters and numbers.
- Copy basic shapes.
Reading Readiness Skills:
- Make reading a part of your family routine daily. Let your child tell the story just by looking at the pictures. “What do you think will happen next?”
- Talk about how to read a book. Read from front to back, top to bottom and left to right.
- Point out the author and illustrator as you read.
- What logos does your child recognize as you cruise down the road? That is the beginning of reading, too.
- Use letter magnets, write letters in the sand at the park, cut out pictures from store ads and match to a letter. Perfection is not required.
- Practice recognizing their name.That will be how they identify belongings, etc. from the first day of school.
- Keep practicing writing their name. It will come. Don’t expect perfection.
Independence Skills: (self-help skills)
- Encourage handwashing.
- Dress them in clothes that make it easy to use the bathroom.
- Encourage basic self-dressing. They still may need some help with zippers, buttons and shoe tying.
- Practice knowing their full name, parent’s full name, address and a parent’s phone number.
- Notice small successes. Don’t wait for perfection. Celebrate small steps in the right direction.
- Practice putting on winter gear in the correct order.
- Practice packing belongings into a backpack.
- Encourage regular bedtime routines and healthy eating.
- Model positive social interactions and respect. They are sponges and are always watching.
- Help them separate from you with reassurance and calmness. Let them catch your calm and not your chaos. Empathy and understanding help to absorb your child’s strong emotions.
- Your child is still learning social skills so help them problem solve and explore options.
- Give them time to interact with other children but remember they are often playing with other children who are also “works in progress” and may not have all the social skills to solve issues.
- Encourage and model turn taking, appropriately expressing feelings, and sharing. Playing with your child is a great place to do this.
- Notice behaviors you would like to see more of. What we give attention to multiplies.
If you have question about your child’s development, skills or school readiness, you can ask your child’s doctor, preschool teacher, child care provider, or kindergarten teacher for input or, West Dakota Parent & Family Resource Center or a Parent and Family Resource Center near you.
The West Dakota Parent & Family Resource Center is a collaborative partnership between Dickinson Public Schools and NDSU Extension since 1997. For more information call 701-456-0007 or toll free at 1-877-264-1142