Preparing Your Child For Kindergarten

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If your child is starting kindergarten this upcoming school year you might be wondering what you can do to better prepare them.  Practicing these 10 skills can help your child feel more comfortable and confident as they begin their journey as a kindergartner.

Prepare Your Child for Kindergarten - MJCS

Identify and Write First and Last Name

At the beginning of the school year your child will practice writing their name, but it is always helpful for them to know or have experience in writing their own name.

Alphabet Letters and Sounds

Is it a requirement for your child to know all their letters and sounds before starting kindergarten?  No way! Should you child know some letters and sounds before kindergarten? It wouldn’t hurt!

Your child will learn their alphabet at school and forcing every letter and sound before they begin kindergarten or before they are ready can burn your child out before they even start school.  Instead, play games, read books and watch videos that will encourage letter recognition without putting too much pressure on your child.

  • Grab some of these alphabet resources or these printable games to play and use together.
  • Sing the alphabet song and point to the letters while you sing together.
  • Have letter hunts while driving in the car.  Name a letter and try to find it on the road.
  • Visit the library and check out some alphabet books to read together.
  • Practice writing and reading both capital and lowercase letters.

Listen to and Read Picture Books

In the classroom your child will be read to and will have time to read independently.  Do fret…they will not be expected to read the words in a story, but instead will be taught to read the pictures and retell stories that have been read to them.  Learning to sit and listen to a story and then reading on their own is a great skill to practice before kindergarten.

  • Read as many picture books as you can with your child.  Ask questions while reading and after the story is over to encourage comprehension and their ability to “read” the story again on their own.
  • Take them to your local library for storytime.  Sitting still during a read aloud in kindergarten will be something they experience on the first day of school and knowing what to expect will make this easier for them.
  • Encourage your child to read a book to you.  Have them use the pictures in the books to tell the story.
  • Make sure your child is holding and using books correctly.

Drawing and Writing Stories

Learning to write is a skill that will develop while your child is in kindergarten.  Help prepare them for writing in kindergarten by allowing them to draw pictures, mimic writing letters or writing the sounds they hear as they speak.

    • Provide your children with a journal (spiral notebook or a sketch pad) and have them draw or write in it.
    • Have your child dictate a story to you and you model writing their story on a piece of paper.  Write the sounds that your hear and not the correct spelling of difficult words if possible.
    • Have your child draw pictures and tell the story that goes with their picture.
  • Have your child practice writing on a piece of paper.

Count to 10, 20…or more!

Learning to count at an early age will help your child succeed in math when they start kindergarten. Counting will range from rote counting through memorization to one-to-one correspondence in kindergarten.  Here are some ways to practice both…

    • Count how many steps you take to go to the car, bedroom, door, etc. Find any reason to count.
    • Read counting books together or simply count the objects you see in a picture book while you are reading together.
    • Sing some counting songs together.
  • Have your child count groups of ten as they touch each object. For example, have him/her count how many goldfish they get for snack or how many toy cars they are playing with.

Numbers to 10

Recognizing and writing numbers to 10 is an important skill to practice before kindergarten.

    • Have your child practice writing numerals 0 to l0 with a variety of tools (i.e. markers, crayons, pencils, Magna Doodle, etc.)
    • Point out numbers you see around your community (i.e. licence plates, road signs, at the store, etc.)
  • Have your child write numbers in shaving cream, rice, or sand.

Recognize Colors and Shapes

Your child should be able to recognize the basic colors and shapes before starting kindergarten.  This will allow them to sort by attributes, find certain areas of the classroom or know which folder they can put their work in.

    • Practice recognizing red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, black, gray, pink, and brown.
    • Go on a color hunt or play “Find it” by searching for different colors around your home together.
    • Ask your child what colors they are using as they are coloring.
    • Discuss colors you see on a daily basis (i.e. sky, grass, clothing, toys, etc.)
    • Help your child recognize a circle, oval, square, rectangle, rhombus, and triangle.
    • Look for objects around your house or community that resemble the shapes listed above. (i.e. “A traffic light has three circles.”)
  • Have your child draw shapes on paper or a dry erase board.

Practice Cutting and Coloring

Coloring and cutting will happen a lot in your child’s kindergarten classroom.  Allow your child to practice using crayons and scissors at home before starting school to help them be successful.  Learning to cut out shapes or on straight lines and coloring pictures neatly (i.e. no scribble scrabble coloring) will help them develop their fine motor skills and the basic skills needed for school.

    •  Practice cutting with scissors by cutting pictures from magazines, cutting coupons, etc.
    • Try coloring within the lines neatly when using crayons, markers, and paint.
  • Have your child draw simple pictures (self portrait, family portrait, house, etc.)

Personal Information

Teaching your child their name, birthdate, phone number and address is a skill most kindergarteners are expected to develop.  These concepts are important life skills and are also taught to help your child start safe if they ever need to contact you or find their home.

    • Make up a song, rhyme, or rap to help your child memorize their birthdate, phone number, and address.
    • Write letters to family and friends and have your child help you write your address by telling you what to write.
  • Use a play phone to help your child remember your phone number.

Be a Good Friend

Sure when you think of kindergarten your mind goes to the alphabet, reading, and simple math, but being a good friend something many parents don’t think of often enough.  I assure you that most if not all kindergarten teachers would love for their students to come to school understanding the concept that they should treat their classmates, teachers and friends just like they would want to be treated.

  • Practice waiting their turn throughout the day.  Waiting for the slide at the park,  letting mommy have a turn with a toy before they do, being served their meal last or better yet serving others first.
  • Explore this packet about the Golden Rule together.
  • If a friend gets hurts encourage your child to check on that friend and get them help is needed.  Explain to them that being a good friend means trying to be there for your friends when they need help.
  • They don’t always need to be first.  A lot of kids love to race, compete and usually want to be first in almost everything.  There are not many times in kindergarten that they will have the opportunity to be first since there are many other children in a classroom
  • Have your child clean up at the end of playtime or before bed each day.

Whether your child knows or doesn’t know these skills will not determine your child’s success in kindergarten.  However, your child will be more successful in their education if they know that you want them to learn and try their best at all times.  By being a part of your child’s education before they even start kindergarten you are letting them know that you will work together with their teacher to help them do their best.

If your child is not enjoying the activities you have planned or struggles to understand the concepts listed above do not push them too hard.  It could be that you need to choose more hands-on learning activities for your child, find activities related to their own interests or that they aren’t quite ready to learn the information.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about your child beginning kindergarten and if you are a kindergarten teacher please comment below with your thoughts or suggestions for incoming kindergarteners.

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progress monitoring in the early elementary classroom for math, literacy and reading