Soon your little baby will be a Kindergartener! What a milestone! You should be very proud of your little one and excited about the adventure you’re both about to embark on. As you prepare to get your child prepped for their new school career, it’s normal to feel nervous or even, unprepared for the road that lies ahead. Luckily, we’ve compiled all the social, emotional and cognitive ways you can help your little star shine bright on their big day.
Building Language Skills
One of the biggest aspects of Kindergarten will be your child’s ability to understand and apply language skills. By reading to your child each night before bed, you’re giving them a head start at being able to understand how language is used. Diving into reading early also helps prepare your child for understanding the parts of a book and the story – a huge milestone for a Kindergartener. Going over these items each night during your own story time can give your little one an advantage. Reading also lets your child learn how to sit down and wait for the end of a story which can be applied in almost every other area of their life. Not only does reading help develop language skills so does talking. Talk with your child as you go about your daily duties each day. A great time to do this is while you’re driving from place to place.
Learning to Count
Children love to learn about numbers and what they mean. Before your little one heads off to Kindergarten, make sure they can count to 20 and recognize numbers 0-10. Use everyday objects like cotton balls or cups to make a math lesson at home. Also, look for apps or buy a set of cards that help your child identify simple shapes, like rectangles, squares or circles. Use board games as a way to talk about positions above, below, beside and next to. These concepts will help your child get ahead during Math class.
Write It Out
Before your little one heads to school, make sure they know how to spell their first and last name. Doing so will help their teacher move on to harder concepts faster, as well as, give them confidence as they begin to study and learn independently. Your child should definitely know how to say the ABCs and identify the letters before Kindergarten. Bonus points if your child can write every letter with a capital and a lowercase. Though it may seem like you are teaching everything beforehand, it will help your child reinforce what they’ve learned and thus, learn at a quicker rate.
Kindergarten is a big step toward independence. You’ll be amazed just how big your child will feel after riding the bus or walking in by his or herself. But independence also brings the possibility that your child may get turned around or lost at school. Make sure your child knows their name, phone number, address, school and teachers name before the big day. Also, go over and over how your child will get home on the first day of school, whether they will be a walker, car rider or bus rider. Go with your child on a practice drop-off or bus ride and explain the different daily scenarios to them.
Technology is Knowledge
Kids today are different than they were when you were young. Instead of pretending that your child isn’t growing up in a world swirling with new technology, help them embrace technology so they know how to handle it at school. Let your child experiment by typing on your computer. Allow them to use your tablet for educational games. One of the best things to teach your child is how to use a mouse, something tablets have made an oddity. Yet, for their Kindergarten testing, they’ll need to know how to use one.
If your child has a hard time sitting still or they’ve never been in a school setting, you’ll want to have several practice sessions before your child goes for that first day of Kindergarten. If they’ve had an unstructured routine, they might find it hard to understand why they need to listen to the rules of the teacher at school. Practicing by playing school where your child takes turns being the student, and the teacher can help them understand the environment they’ll be in. Setting up ground rules for listening to the teacher and consequences for not following the rules can also help. Make sure to also give your child plenty of social activities before school starts. Play dates and day camps can help a child learn how to share, work in a group and learn together, all vital parts of what they’ll be doing in Kindergarten. Also, discuss expected behavior in the lunch area and on the school bus.
So what’s the moral of the story? Kindergarten is a time for big changes, but if you take the time to understand and listen to your child, you’ll already start out ahead of the pack. And remember, kids learn at their own pace.
Don’t compare your little one to yourself or to other parents. Every child is different and will absolutely master the techniques needed when they’re ready. Just read each night, talk with your child and show them all the love they need to learn and grow. Though it will be hard to watch your little one grow up overnight, it marks the beginning of a new adventure – one where your little human begins to understand, comprehend and make his mark on the world around him. Congratulations!