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Kindergarten is such an exciting transition, both for the child and the parent. It’s the start of a different phase of the learning journey, where they’ll build on important skills like reading, math, and making friends in a new setting. But like all new and unfamiliar things, starting kindergarten can have its challenges. Every child is different, and not everyone is ready to start school just because they’re old enough. Here are some things your child can do at home and at The Learning Tree to ensure they are kindergarten ready.
Also called “school readiness,” this describes the knowledge and skills a child should have before they start kindergarten. These include but are not limited to:
While school will help your child develop these skills, getting a head start and fostering learning early on will only make life easier.
Can your child walk or run easily, or do they often lose their balance if they start moving too fast? Can they hold things like a spoon or is their grip a little loose? Their motor skills may need some refining.
At home, give your child the chance to practice gripping a pencil, crayon, or marker correctly. Try the “pinch and flip” method: Lay the pencil flat in front of them with the lead pointing at the child. Have them pinch the pencil between two fingers. Then flip the pencil back towards them with the eraser going over the hand. Then rest it on the middle finger, with the lead pointing down at the paper. This will familiarize your child with the ritual of picking up a pen or pencil—something they’ll do their entire academic careers and beyond.
Kindergarteners will play a lot of activities and games, so get your child outside as much as possible. Even something like catching a small ball can help with hand-eye coordination. Arts and crafts are also a large part of their education, so let them practice using scissors, glue, paint, and other art materials. You can even get an art kit or craft project to do together at home.
Learning takes time, so you shouldn’t expect your child to fully master these skills. But the goal of kindergarten readiness is to ensure your child will feel confident and comfortable entering kindergarten with what they’ve practiced.
This might be one of the most important areas for your child’s development before kindergarten. Learning emotional skills and how to work well with others is essential.
Kids will have to do a lot of listening as they sit through classes, so they need to listen well to their teachers, as well as their peers. They also need a level of independence—like raising their hand before they speak to ask a question or make a comment. They need to have self-control to ensure they and their classmates all have the most positive and productive learning experience possible. And they need persistence to keep trying even when they fail or things get hard.
Being a good friend is also a huge part of kindergarten. Your child will meet new people very different from them. They don’t need to be friends with everyone, but simple social skills like sharing, taking turns, and being kind will do much for them and their relationships.
To help with this, give your child some responsibilities at home. Let them pick up their toys or hang up their bath towels. Read aloud to them and ask questions about the story to see if they’re listening. Let them hold the book and turn the pages. And put them in places where they can make friends, from a playground to one-on-one playdates.
Your child will have a much easier time learning skills like reading and math if they already have a little understanding of common academic concepts. Help them learn to identify some letters of the alphabet using some early-level books with big letters. Teach them to write out their name using upper and lower case letters.
You can also give them some phonics training by helping them track words with their fingers as they read. This will help them learn what sounds correspond to certain vowels or consonants. There’s also “common sight words” like “said” and “do” that your child can learn to recognize even if they can’t read. All these and more will set the foundation for excellent literacy skills in kindergarten.
For math skills, teach your child how to count to ten on their fingers. Ask them to describe objects according to their shape, size, and quantity—like how grass is green or a table is rectangular. Other useful information would be pointing out their different body parts and giving them the proper names, as well as the days of the week and the months of the year.
It’s easy to take for granted things we know as adults that children still have to learn. Can your child dress themselves? Can they go to the bathroom on their own? Can they clean themselves up after a meal or doing a project? Do they know their full name and birthday? You’d be surprised how crucial these simple things are for preparing your child for a good kindergarten experience.
If getting your child kindergarten ready sounds overwhelming, fear not. Preschool and early childhood development centers like The Learning Tree are all about helping you and your child get ready for this transition. Our curriculum covers everything mentioned in this blog and more, ensuring your child learns all the emotional, social, academic, physical, and other skills needed before school. Our staff is dedicated to giving your child the best possible foundation for this transition, and we’d love to work with you. Request a tour of The Learning Tree to see how your child can start getting kindergarten ready.
The Learning Tree is excited to partner with the U46 School District to offer the school-age U46 Summer Connection Camp Program at no cost to families.