The school year is about to begin and I’ve had a lot of parents ask me if their child is ready to start Kindergarten. Here are my tips on what you should introduce to your child before school starts, to begin the year off on the right foot!
Name, Phone Number, Address
As a safety precaution, your child NEEDS to know their name as well as your name. They also should be aware of their phone number and home address in case of an emergency. These are essential skills for daily life but will also be helpful to know by the time they start school.
Write Their Name
Show your child how to write their name. Introduce him/her to the strokes of each letter as well as the letter names. Being able to recognize their name and which letters are in their name is a vital skill that will help your child be successful in their Kindergarten classroom.
As you teach your child to write their name, model for them the correct way to hold a pencil. This will be very important as they become writers in school. If your child holds a pencil in a funky way, don’t sweat it. It’s easier to correct poor pencil grip early on then later in their school years. If modeling still doesn’t help, grab some of these pencil grips
to add onto your pencils. They are FABULOUS for reteaching pencil grip with little hands.
Your child’s teacher won’t expect their handwriting to be perfect, but if they’re going to grade their work, it must be legible. If you know the proper strokes for each capital and lower case letter, have your child practice with you at home. Carefully watch them and correct them as needed. If you rather they work independently, this is a great handwriting book to introduce the proper strokes at home.
It’s not super important for your child to have mastered this skill before school starts but it’s definitely something that should be introduced. Imagine your child’s classroom with 20+ children needing to have their shoes tied by the ONE teacher in the room. Think of how much instructional time is taken away each day from your child’s learning because the teacher has to tie their shoes multiple times a day. Gain back their instructional time by assisting in teaching this skill.
Shoes and Jackets
Like I said earlier, being able to tie your own shoes is an important life skill to learn early on in school. However; it’s also important for your child to know how to put their shoes on all by themselves as well. They need to be able to see which shoe goes on which foot based on the curve in the shoe. If they wear velcro shoes, they need to be able to undo and redo the velcro easily.
Jackets can also be tricky for children in the classroom. Teach them how to put their jackets on and take them off with ease. Sometimes when children take off their jackets, the sleeves get reversed. Oooops! This can become a big mess when it’s time for dismissal or recess and they need to put their coats back on quickly. So along with putting their jackets on, show them how to stick their arms into the jacket sleeve and pull the sleeve out to the original position. This will save time and your child will be ready to go.
Zippers and Buttons
Zippers and buttons can be the most challenging parts of children’s clothing, especially when it comes to bathroom time. In Kindergarten, bathroom breaks are usually whole group, in the hallway, with all 20+ children. Can you imagine one little ‘ol teacher having to button and unbutton each child’s pants so that they don’t have a dire emergency? Do your child a favor and have them master buttoning and unbuttoning their pants as well as teaching them how to zip their pants up and down before the school year begins.
Cutting and Gluing Skills
“Just a dot, not a lot” is a song that I find myself singing throughout the school year. It’s essential to teach our little learners to use just the right amount of glue that they need for their assignment or craft. If not, their work sticks to their neighbors or all over their fingers, and it creates a sticky mess!
Cutting is also a vital life skill that your child will need to know. Most Kindergarteners don’t know how to even hold a pair of scissors. At home, show your child how to properly hold scissors and give them some practice papers to cut. Simply draw various lines on a paper (wavy, straight, zig-zag etc) and have your child cut on the lines. THESE
Kumon books are also really great resources to help introduce this concept to young learners.
Your child will hear “hamburger” and “hot dog” folding again and again throughout their school year. Before school starts, inform your child that when their teacher says “hamburger” folding, they mean to fold it in half the wide way. “Hot dog” folding would be folding their paper in half the long way.
It’s important that your child knows how to put their backpack on and take it off. It’s also important that your child knows how to unzip their backpack and take out their belongings for the day. This may be their take home folder, jacket, lunch box etc. If you put any money or notes in their take home folder, your child needs to be able to open their folder and hand the notes to their teacher. It’s also important that they know how to pack up during dismissal. Your child will receive a lot of documents throughout the school year to share with you. Model for them how they get these papers from point A (school) to point B (home) with ease.
You will know your child has one-to-one correspondence if they are able to touch objects one at a time and count them. Simply throw some crayons or Cheerios on your table and see if your child can count them.
This is also a useful skill to master when your child learns to read. In reading, your child will have mastered one-to-one correspondence if they see the difference in each word on the page. As a young reader, they may not know the difference between words, letters, and sentences. At home you can open up any book that you have and see if they can count the number of words within a line.
Coloring in the Lines
Before Kindergarten, most children are great at putting the marker to paper and adding color to their pictures; however, they usually aren’t able to stay within the lines. Head over to your local dollar store and pick up a cheap coloring book to practice this skill at home.
Patience can be a tricky life skill for your child to learn as they get older. At school, they will need to learn how to wait their turns in several different scenarios. They will wait their turn in the line for the bathroom, they will wait their turn in the lunch room, they will wait their turn as they raise their hand. There’s lots of waiting that happens and patience that needs to be nurtured at an early age. At home, practice sharing and waiting their turns throughout the community. Think aloud how you are waiting your turn at the stop sign or the line at a local theme park etc. If your child realizes that everyone has to wait every once in awhile, it’ll become an easier transition for them when they enter the classroom.