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Is your kid getting ready for their first day of kindergarten???
Time flies by! Remember when they were a tiny baby in your arms, and when they first started to walk, and when they said their first word??
Now here you are making sure your baby has all the skills and knowledge that he needs to succeed in the fast-paced learning craze that your little one will be thrown into on his first day of school.
It’s a challenge, to be sure!
Within the first weeks of Kindergarten, your child will be:
- writing her name, numbers, AND all the letters,
- reading and memorizing sight words,
- sounding out simple words (hope she knows all her letter sounds!!),
- performing simple math,
- counting all the way to 100,
- coping with being away from mom and dad for long periods of time,
- sitting still and focusing for hours at a time,
- and functioning for at least half a day in a structured classroom with new rules and restrictions…. just to mention a few!
That’s SOOOOO much for a 5 year old to handle!!!!
How is a parent supposed to make sure their little ones are ready for Kindergarten??
Here are the 10 things that every parent needs to know about Kindergarten preparation.
1. No Pressure!!!
First thing all moms need to know about Kindergarten Readiness- no child is ever perfectly ready for Kindergarten.
It’s a whole new world for kids. How could they ever be 100% ready for something they’ve never experienced before?
The focus here isn’t perfection- it’s preparation.
Your child won’t meet everything on this list- and that’s OK! He’s only 5, after all. Just do your best, make it fun, and enjoy every second of your little one before they’re off to school!
Kids learn best when they’re playing, so turn learning into games!
Brain Quest Kindergarten, revised 4th edition: 300 Questions and Answers to Get a Smart Start (Brain Quest Decks)
2. Social and Emotional Skills
Let’s talk about the vital pieces of kindergarten readiness that nobody ever talks about.
Each child needs to be socially and emotionally prepared for a major change in their life. School takes self-control and focus- which aren’t easy for a young child.
Here are some important skills to help your child master before Kindergarten. Ask yourself:
Can my child….
- Sit quietly and focus for 15-20 minutes?
- Cope when away from parents through basic self-calming skills?
- Develop and maintain friendships with other children?
- Play and share with other children appropriately (with some disagreements every once and a while)?
- Follow basic 2-step directions?
- Communicate their needs to adults?
- Speak with clear words and complete sentences?
Here are some great books to help your child cope with any anxiety about the first day of school!
Kindergarten, Here I Come!
3. Self-Help Skills
Another often forgotten (but SOOO vital) part of thriving through Kindergarten! Self-Help Skills are the skills your child will use to take care of themselves in a classroom setting- you know, all the things the child should be able to do for himself so that the teacher can concentrate on teaching.
These skills also keep the child safe.
Can my child…
- Wash hands independently?
- Use restroom independently?
- State her own full name and age?
- Remember her parents’ names?
- Memorize and recite basic contact information- such as his address and at least one parent’s phone number?
4. Physical Skills
Children need to master basic physical development to succeed in school. This means both fine motor skills (small movements using the hands and fingers) and gross motor skills (large movements using the whole body).
Can my child…
- Cut along a line using scissors?
- Copy marks on a paper- such as an x, a line, a zigzag, or a circle?
- Complete typical gross motor skills- such as hopping, jumping, running, catching a ball, going up and down stairs?
- Endure the length of the Kindergarten class without snacks or naps (unless your school provides these)?
- Control her own bowels- in other words, can she “hold it” until it’s time to go to the bathroom?
5. Reading Skills
Ok, we’re finally getting around to the stuff that everyone talks about! This is the cognitive area- the main focus of school and therefore the main focus of school prep. This is great stuff, but it can easily cause a lot of extra stress for children and parents.
Don’t let it!!!!
School needs to be fun and exciting, not a forced task for children. Don’t go overboard in teaching letters and numbers, although these are great things to learn. It’s not worth stressing out the child and creating resentment towards learning and school.
Find fun ways to practice letters and reading skills without frustrating anyone. Fostering a love of reading and all other areas of school will create a healthy joy for learning that will last a lifetime!
Here are a few of the skills to work on. Ask yourself:
Does my child….
- Know the ABC’s? This means:
- Singing the alphabet,
- If possible, identifying all letters by sight (“Where is the ‘S’?”),
- If possible, naming all the letters independently and out of order (“What is this letter?”),
- If possible, identifying all the letter sounds (“What does the ‘M’ say?”), and
- If possible, identifying uppercase and lowercase letters.
- Understand books and literacy? This means:
- When looking through a book,
- the child holds the book upright,
- recognizes that the words move from left to right and from top to bottom, and
- knows where the front and back of the book are.
- When looking through a book,
- Retell a simple story after hearing it?
- Hear and identify rhyming words?
6. Writing Skills
Writing is tough for young children! It requires specific fine motor skills, memory of each letter, and focus.
Again, practice makes perfect. Especially fun practice! That’s what will hold the child’s attention and result in lasting retention!
Can my child…
- Hold a pencil correctly?
- Recognize their own name when written (“Which name tag is yours?”)?
- Write his full first name (no nicknames!) using a capital letter for the first letter and lowercase letters for the rest of his name?
- That means that if your child goes by “Sam” but his full first name is “Samuel,” his Kindergarten teacher will expect him to write “Samuel”.
- If possible, write all the letters and numbers (1-10) on demand (“Please write a lowercase ‘P’.”)?
7. Math Skills
Just like reading, math skills begin long before division and multiplication, or even adding and subtracting.
Here are a few basic math skills that your child can master right now, even before he enters his first Kindergarten classroom!
Can my child….
- Recognize and identify basic shapes (Circle, square, diamond, star, triangle, oval, rectangle)?
- Recognize and identify colors (White, black, brown, yellow, green, orange, pink, purple, red, blue)?
- Count to 20?
- If possible, recognize all numbers from 1-10 out of order (“Can you find the 7?”)?
- Count backwards from 10?
- Count up to 5 objects by pointing to each item to track counting?
- Understand concepts of more or less (Greater than or less than)?
- Organize objects into groups based on similarities?
- Recognize and complete simple patterns (X O X O _?_, X X O X X O _?_)?
8. Reasoning Skills
As your child’s brain develops, she is more and more capable of logical thought. This development, combined with your coaching, teach the child how to make sense of the world around her through reasoning and problem solving.
Check to see if your child needs any extra practice in this area. Ask yourself: ]
Can my child…
- Understand basic concepts of time?
- It is helpful to know:
- that we all have to wait for things we want,
- that we follow a schedule of events during the day,
- the names of the four seasons,
- the names of the months of the year,
- and the names of the days of the week.
- It is helpful to know:
- Understand comparisons like big/small, same/different, first/last, up/down/around/next to?
- Make a reasonable guess of what will happen next in a simple story? This skill shows basic understanding of cause/effect relationships as well as comprehension.
- Sequence three story pictures?
- Repeat or participates in a familiar rhyme or song? This shows memory and retention skills.
- Complete a 4 piece puzzle (or larger) using clues like shape, color, and images to identify where each puzzle piece belongs?
9. Exciting Things to Look Forward To… And Start Practicing!
Did your child meet everything on the list? Chances are, he’s got a few things to practice before he’s ready for Kindergarten!
That’s perfectly normal and perfectly fine!
Do your best to support your child in his kindergarten preparation by teaching and practicing these skills at home.
The more your child masters, the easier the transition to Kindergarten will be!
As your child begins his first days and weeks in Kindergarten, you can look forward to your child building new skills, such as:
- Buttoning, zipping, tying shoes,
- Sitting still and focusing for longer periods of time,
- Adding and subtracting, and
- Building lasting friendships through increasingly cooperative and structured play!
If your child is doing well in other areas of Kindergarten readiness, start practicing these great skills!
As always, teach through play. Having fun is the best way for children to love learning and retain new information.
10. A Quick Second for Mom
Ok, Mom, we need to take a second to talk about you.
Your baby is headed to Kindergarten!!! That’s a tough thing for a parent.
This is a major milestone in growing up… but we never want our babies to get big. We miss their tiny little selves!
Plan on being an emotional wreck for a little while.
But with a little time and coping, you can get through this too, mama. You’ll need some extra time to yourself to handle the changes happening in your life and in your child’s life.
Check out this FREE Parent’s Guide to Self-Care to help you decompress and feel right with the world again!
Want to learn more? Check out Busy Toddler’s article on Kindergarten Readiness here!
Please share with other moms who need to know what to expect before the first day of Kindergarten!
Who is Mrs. S… and why do people call you that?
It’s my favorite nickname! That’s what all my students call me!
I’ve been around the block a time or two. I’ve worked with children from ages 0-18, some with mental illness, some with disabilities, some with Autism, and many with behavioral problems.
I also worked as a parent educator!
All that doesn’t hold a candle to my best experience with children- being a mom. Want to learn more about me? Click here!