If your child is heading to school for the first time – or moving to a new school to start kindergarten – you may have some anxiety about whether they can “keep up” academically, socially and emotionally with the other kids.
Use these final weeks of summer to reinforce, and even enhance, the skills they have. Remember: children are like sponges. The more we share, the more they learn.
To get you started, we have three words for you: Read, count, color. These three activities alone cover many basic skills that can help your child navigate kindergarten.
Help your child hold a book right-side up, with words flowing from left to right. Point out letters as you read. If she knows the letters in her name, have your daughter point to those letters on the page. Reading can also enhance a child’s attention span. Ask questions such as, “What do you think will happen next?” to encourage sequential thinking. Ask your child to retell the story, prompting him with questions about what happened in the beginning, middle and end.
Count toes on a foot, petals on a flower, apples at the store, and people in your family. Point to numbers in everyday activities – on a phone keypad, around the house or on price signs at the grocery store.
Point out colors throughout your day: red shirt, blue pants, black shoes, the purple living room couch, the brown carpet, the orange car, the green grass.
Share a running commentary on your day. “Please put on your blue shirt with three butterflies. The cereal box is a rectangle, and we can pour cereal into a round bowl.” At the store, point to items on the list: “We need to buy 1-2-3 red apples and some orange carrots.”
We think this list is very helpful: “33 Simple Ways to Prepare Your Child for Kindergarten.” Remember: Children learn best with hands-on experience, so use play and exploration to foster a love of learning.
Play dates are a great way to work on social skills, and can help your child learn about sharing and taking turns. For help navigating the play date, check out our blog post Mine! Mine! Mine!”
Worried about separation anxiety? Planning ahead and establishing a routine can help your child (and you!) cope. For tips, read ‘Kissing Hands’ to soothe separation tears.
If you’re worried about your child’s behavior, provide a model at home to reinforce right from wrong. For helpful tips, read Don’t Lick the Dishes and Other Models of Good Behavior.
If you’re feeling stressed about what your child does and doesn’t know before starting kindergarten, remember that age is the only prerequisite for a child to attend public school in the United States. While it might be ideal for every child to have mastered certain skills prior to the start of school, it’s may not be realistic for all children. Schools are prepared to meet the needs of individual students, no matter what their current ability.
With a few weeks left before school starts, there is time to reinforce what your child already knows – and to possibly add to it. Your child will feel more confident – and you’ll have spent meaningful time together!