Isn’t it hysterical that I’m writing a post that answers the question, “How do I prepare my child for Kindergarten?” I should have posted this earlier – the beginning of the summer, perhaps. But, as you know, I’ve had a rather rough time pulling it together lately. So if you’re scrambling to buy crayons, paste and safety scissors, take heart! I’m running behind, too – and if you haven’t been able to do all these things for the past several months, there’s no time like the present for establishing some good habits.
Seeing that I have no biological children (when I refer to “my children” I actually mean my nephews and nieces, or my friends little ones), I needed to access the experts in my network to write this post. (If you can’t BE the Ninja, KNOW the Ninja(s).) Happily, I was able to consult two of my favorite educators, F (“That’s good remembering.”) and K (my ESL co-teacher). They both specialize in Kindergarten and the list of preparatory activities is almost verbatim from them. Thank you so much xoxoxo!! (Side note – Ooh! I should have consulted Mrs. B, but I forget what grade she teaches. Grr.)
Before I write the list down I just have to tell you one story: I showed up at F’s school a couple of times with my visiting basket in tow. While the kids were working at their seats she’d roll around on a little wheeled stool like PTs use in the gym. And then it was circle time! One day F was trying to help the kids remember the letter “S” since they had been focusing on this part of the alphabet lately.
F: “Who can tell me a word that starts with ‘S’?”
An adorable little guy with a round face and tiny glasses raised his hand, “Oooh, oooh, oooh!” (He was so excited.) F called on him.
“Marshmallow!” he announced.
“Oooh! So close!” F encouraged him, (and then listed some other words actually beginning with “S”).
I, for one, did not see the proximity of “marshmallow” and “words beginning with ‘s’,” but F later explained to me that they had done an activity with marshmallows earlier and had focused on the “sh” sound. Okay, I thought, I’ll give him that – although it helped that the kid was super cute. I love that story for several reasons – but it’s also a good reminder for me re. what to pray for in a teacher for my children – you want an educator who will build them up and also teach accurately so the students aren’t afraid to raise their hands and you’re confident they’re actually learning things.
As we gear up for the new school year I’m sending a big hug to all my teacher friends! And to my parent friends who are sending their children to kindergarten for the first time, xoxoxo! Be strong – you and your kid can do this! And to all the kids in my life who are making sure their lunchboxes and backpacks are ready, have a great year!
How to prepare your child for Kindergarten
- Don’t rush it. Age is not the only consideration for starting school. And your child will be in school for 13 plus years. You want them to love it not dread it.
- Pray for the right placement and teacher for your particular child. There are lots of options for the “school” experience.
- Remember your child is not perfect – hold them accountable for actions and reactions and resist the temptation to make excuses or bail them out. Just lend support and encourage facing issues head on.
- Encourage friendships and play dates with 2-4 children. Sharing is vital – it is a 2-way street as is handling conflict. Give opportunities for other adults to be authority figures besides mom and dad on occasion.
- Read, read, read from early days right up thru the years of school. Read to your child and encourage them to read to you (even if it is rote memory!!). Enjoy pictures and words and play games with new and interesting words (rhyming, beginning and end sounds, synonyms and antonyms).
- Practice “Lap Time” – This goes with number 5. Do lots of activities that involve your little one sitting on your lap. Reading is wonderful, making up stories from your imagination, just talking – focusing your attention on your child will help his/her speech patterns develop.
- Encourage kids to tell you stories – you write and they illustrate. They can even begin to fill in some words as they learn to write.
- If you are working with them on letter sounds give them opportunity to see in print and identify sounds. An alphabet book is fun – cutting out letters and pictures that start with that sound (magazines, newspapers, hand-drawn and printed)
- If the child demonstrates interest in writing letters encourage proper formation – consider the style that will be taught in your school so it doesn’t have to be relearned. Lower case letters are more important than caps because that is what we read the most of. Check out “Spalding” – a see, hear, say and write method.
- Count everything you come in contact with and play with numbers. Learn to recognize 1-10 and understand the value of each. Higher math will come later but story problems of everyday things are fun to intro addition and subtraction concepts plus basic problem solving. Encourage your child to think about the process not just memorize facts. Play table game that encourage counting and color recognition.
- Do lots of painting and coloring (crayons, markers and colored pencils). Encourage freehand drawings. Experiment with mixing colors.
- Teach how to hold scissors, cut straight lines and curves.
- Teach them to tie shoes and be responsible for a coat and backpack.
- Have routines for clean-up and helping times – small tasks to larger ones give a sense of belonging and responsibility. Develop a team mentality.
- When classroom time comes do volunteer in the class on a regular basis. Be sensitive to teacher suggestions of what type of schedule or tasks will be helpful and not interfere with your child’s adjustment to classroom routines.
P.S. Go watch this video on the Discovery School in Burundi (click on the image). I had several dreams about the D School while I was in the ICU. I was trying to figure out a spreadsheet issue in my dream since that’s what I was doing when I was actually there. I recently found this video and I emailed JCJ saying I really don’t know how everyone ISN’T interested in this. The value proposition is clear – they are able to offer a very high level of schooling to people at a very low price. Essentially they are making dynamic, multi-lingual education available to a population that grew up with the “chalk and talk” method and for whom the education system was simply absent from the cultural landscape during the war.