Is your child ready for kindergarten? It is often a child’s first experience in an academic setting and sometimes parents wonder whether their children are ready for both the academics and the social interactions in a kindergarten classroom. In Episode 12, Amy Van Hoose and Abby Bradshaw share some ideas about areas parents can work on this summer to help prepare kids for kindergarten.
Abby Bradshaw graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from SIUE in 2008. She headed back to earn her Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction in 2012. She started working at St. Jacob Elementary in 2008 and has been there ever since. She absolutely adores her wonderful school, the village of St. Jacob, and the fantastic families and students that she has the privilege of working with each day. She lives in Troy with her husband Josh, her son Jonah, and her daughter Cassidy. She loves being outdoors and teaching her students about nature and science.
Basic Categories of Kindergarten/School Preparation:
-Social Skills/Listening Skills
-Basic Academic Skills
-Gross and Fine Motor Skills
Parents are the first teachers and you continue that right even though your child is starting school. You will continue to play an important role in your child’s education for the rest of their lives. Your attitude and the way that you talk about school and teachers will directly affect your child’s opinion of those same topics. Speak positively about school in order to get your child excited!
What are some independent skills that teachers want kids to have before starting kindergarten?
- Self-care: buttoning/zipping, getting jackets/sweatshirts on/off, putting shoes/socks and tying shoes
- Taking care of his/her own belongings-picking up toys, putting away their shoes/coats- Kindergarten students take care of their own folders, backpacks, lunch boxes at school.
- Bathroom etiquette- washing hands and keeping water/soap in the sink, appropriate bathroom behaviors
- Daily skills- opening snacks
What are some strategies that parents can use to help kids with these independent skills?
- One of the easiest ways to promote independence is to have a fairly regular routine. If your child knows what to expect, they can help to take care of the upcoming “jobs”. Bedtime stories are a great addition to your nightly routine if you aren’t already reading books together each night
What are some social skills kids will encounter in kindergarten that they can start practicing in the summer?
- Empathy – Discuss feelings with your child. Build empathy by talking about how characters in books or tv shows might be feeling and ask why they are feeling that way.
- Basic conversation skills- How do you introduce yourself? What do you say if someone says they like your shirt?
- Using manners and being polite with others
- The GOLDEN Rule- Treat others the way you want to be treated.
- Sharing – Sharing will be part of every day. It is an important that your child has an understanding of how to share.
How can parents practice these skills?
- Take a step back and watch to see how your child copes with problems. Do they immediately ask for help? If so, start arming them with ways that they can solve their problem instead of seeking help from an adult right away. Praise creative solutions and encourage them to think of more than one way to solve the same problem.
- Teach coping strategies rather than tantrums/breakdowns- When your child is upset, how do they calm themselves (or do they?). Practice communicating needs with words.
What academic skills are helpful when a child starts kindergarten?
- Recognize, read, and write a name
- Identify the letters in their name but the more alphabet knowledge the better.
- Recognize numbers 0-10
- Have the ability to use a pencil, marker, and scissors.
- Use a tripod grip
- Follow 2 to 3 step directions
Common Question: I know coloring is important for hand strength and fine motor skills, but what if my child doesn’t like to color?
- Provide many different drawing/writing materials and different types of paper. (pens, markers, twisty crayons/ colored pencils, character pencils, small chalk with chalkboards)
- If all else fails, here are some activities that use the “writing” muscles- The key is to build these muscles so that it is easier and less-tiresome to color and write.
- Add some eye-droppers and/or syringes to your child’s bath toys
- Using a hole-puncher to make designs on paper (or to make confetti…)
- Small legos are fantastic for building fine motor skills
- Scissors, scissors, scissors! Yes, this can be scary, but let them cut away on scraps of paper (with adult supervision, of course)
What if my child doesn’t like to listen to stories?
- Use sites like Storylineonine or Epic. Listen to books on tape or Youtube.
- If your child isn’t interested in sitting down to read, get them engaged by simply starting to read out loud near them. Often times, they will become engaged even if they weren’t initially interested.
But Academics are SO important…what can we do to make sure they know what they need to know?
Simplicity is key.
-#1…Read, read, read!
- NOTICE things out-loud as often as you can. For example, say “I notice that this word “t-h-e” is in this book a LOT. Do you see it on the next page?” Add math by counting how many times you can find it together.
- “Oooh! 3 of the words on this book cover start with a Mm! They all say /m/ at the beginning!”
- Ask your child about books they read the night before to see what they can remember.
You do not need to print out worksheets or make elaborate learning games from Pinterest.
Many skills can be practiced through simple, engaged speaking games.
- Play I-spy with beginning letter sounds or rhymes ( I spy something that starts with the letter Bb, I spy something that rhymes with tink (sink!).
- Number or letter hunts at the store: Let’s look for the number 8 while we grocery shop. You can even compare number sizes! There is a HUGE 8 on the wall- It’s much larger than the 8’s on the price tags.
- For supper each night, tell your child what you’re having with a rhyme (We’re having bacaroni and fleas!) and have him/her guess what you are really having.
- In a waiting room, have your child examine a sign to see which letters are in their name.
- Count, count, count. Count the stairs in your house or how many steps you took on your way into swimming lessons. Count how long it takes them to get their PJ’s on.
- Shape hunts in the car or out at a store/restaurant.
- Recipes are a great place to practice numbers
You can find out more about what is expected each quarter of kindergarten at our district website.
|Learn to read with this New York Times-bestselling picture book How Rocket Learned to Read, starring an irresistible dog named Rocket and his teacher, a little yellow bird. Follow along as Rocket masters the alphabet, sounds out words, and finally . . . learns to read all on his own!|
|Curious George Goes to School by H.A. Rey
It’s open house at George’s school, and George gets to try his hand at painting in the art room. What he creates, however, is not a pretty picture! George is still a clever monkey, though, and in the end, he makes the open house a happy occasion for everyone.
|I Am Too Absolutely Small for School by Lauren Child
Lola is not so sure about school. After all, why would she need to count higher than ten when she never eats more that ten cookies at a time? Once again, it’s up to ever-patient big brother Charlie to persuade Lola that school is worthwhile — and that her invisible friend, Soren Lorensen, will be welcome, too.
|Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by Joseph Slate and Ashley Wolf
It’s the first day of kindergarten and Miss Bindergarten is hard at work getting the classroom ready for her twenty-six new students. Meanwhile, Adam Krupp wakes up, Brenda Heath brushes her teeth, and Christopher Beaker finds his sneaker. Miss Bindergarten puts the finishing touches on the room just in time, and the students arrive. Now the fun can begin!
|Countdown to Kindergarten by Alison McGhee
It’s just ten days before kindergarten, and this little girl has heard all there is to know–from a first grader–about what it’s going to be like. You can’t bring your cat, you can’t bring a stuffed animal, and the number one rule? You can’t ask anyone for help. Ever. So what do you do when your shoes come untied, if you’re the only one in the class who doesn’t know how to tie them up again?
Told with gentle humor by Alison McGhee and brought to exuberant life by New Yorker cartoonist Harry Bliss, this lighthearted take on pre-kindergarten anxiety will bring a smile to the face of every child–and parent–having first-day jitters.