It sneaks up on you, but the time has come for you to prepare your child for kindergarten. Where did the time go? You may think you’re not a teacher and have no idea where to start. Here is a handy guide for practicing kindergarten readiness skills at home, so your child can enter school with confidence.
1. Work on social skills.
Learning to read, write and work math problems are only a small part of schooling. A much larger part is learning how to be a productive member of a peer group. Your child will need to have the basics of how to relate to other kids their age. This can be accomplished by setting up regular play dates, taking them to the park or Gymboree classes and being intentional in guiding your children to resolve conflict and engage in play. Teach them to say “please” and “thank you” and demonstrate what respect looks like.
2. Practice taking turns.
This is easy to do if you are working with multiple siblings in your family group. Most younger brothers and sisters are fluent in taking turns. When you have an oldest child or an only child, you may need to practice this skill a bit more to be on track for kindergarten readiness. Take time to play a board game with your child. When you go on an outing, teach them to stand in line and wait patiently. If (and when) they throw a fit about not wanting to wait, it can be tempting to give up, but be strong and keep working on this skill. Mastering it prior to kindergarten will make everyone’s life easier when your child goes to school for the first time.
3. Follow directions.
Another important skill to prepare your child for kindergarten is following directions. This does not have to be a battle of wills, make it fun! You can teach this just as easily as a game as you can as a dictator. Games like Red Light, Green Light, Mother May I, and Hot and Cold teach listening and following directions while your child enjoys play time. Click here for more kindergarten readiness activities.
4. Consider partnering with a childcare facility.
Let’s face it. You’re busy and you may be freaking out about the responsibility it takes to prepare your child for school. Don’t stress! Partnering with a child care facility can greatly help you in teaching these skills. There are some great options for Jackson child care centers, with trained teachers, and classroom settings to prepare your child. Finding a child care service with a stellar kindergarten readiness program can alleviate your stress and make sure your child is reaching important milestones.
5. Surround them with words.
When entering kindergarten, your child will need to know some basic sight words like, “stop”, “go”, “by”, etc. To accomplish this, make reading a habit and do it all the time. Read at night before bed. Read the billboards as you’re driving in the car. Read the signs as you walk through the store. Point out a common, repeating word in a book and have your child point to it every time they hear you say it. This can be a great activity for some together time, and they’ll pick up those words without having to do flash cards and memorization.
6. Get familiar with community.
One kindergarten concept that is commonly taught is community, and your child’s place within that community. Talk about jobs they see, like police officers, and fire fighters. Point out the cashier and the person who delivers your mail. Explain why these jobs are important to your community and how they affect your lives. Play pretend with different jobs and give your child real jobs around the house for which they can be responsible. Use these chores to teach the child that they are important and have a specific role to fill in the family and the community.
7. Practice leaving.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but your child is going to have to get good at being away from you. Some kindergarten programs are at least three to four hours long. Some programs are a full day program where your child is away from you for more than six hours. This can be shocking if your child has never been away from you for any period of time. Start small by leaving them at a gym child care while you work out for an hour. When they get familiar with that, kick it up a notch with a regular babysitter spending time with your kids while you leave for a few hours at a time. Enlist your parents or friends to take your kids so they get familiar with not only being away from you, but practice taking direction from someone who isn’t mom or dad. When your child can be away from you for hours at a time, you can all but ensure a tear-free first day of kindergarten.
It’s always difficult when you have to start worrying about whether you’ll be able to properly prepare your child for kindergarten. The short answer is simple: yes, you can definitely do this! Follow these tips and tricks and soon your little sweetie will be confidently waving goodbye as you pat yourself on the back for a job well done.