10 ways to get your student ready for kindergarten
Starting school for the first time can be scary but it can also be a lot of fun. Every child is different, but teachers agree there are some things every parent can do to help get their youngster ready for kindergarten. Here are the top 10 things that you can do to ensure your child makes a successful transition to school.
- Practice Sharing and Taking Turns. Social skills are some of the most important things you need to do well in school. One of those things, especially in kindergarten, is learning to share and take turns. Chances are your child has already had some practice sharing, but find ways to practice this all-important habit. One way is to lead by example. If your child sees you sharing, they will be more likely to follow suit. If you have trouble getting your child to share or take turns consider using a timer to help them until they become more comfortable with the idea. When the timer goes off the next person gets a turn. The timer itself feels like a game and kids do not realize they are learning a valuable life skill.
- Practice Empathy. One of the hardest parts of learning to be a good friend is to understand how others feel. That is a skill your student will use their entire lives so it is critically important to start teaching it early on. Find ways to model empathic behavior. When youngsters know they can count on their caregivers for their physical and emotional needs, studies show they are more likely to show sympathy towards others children in need. Talk to your child when you see an upsetting situation either in person or on TV. Talk about what it must feel like to be that person or in that situation.
- Teach Your Child to Clean Up After Him/Herself. This seems like such a simple thing but teachers say this is a challenge they face with every new class. You can make a game out of picking up his/her toys or taking the dinner plate to the sink after each meal. Most children naturally want to be helpers. Easy cleanup tasks are a great way to build self-confidence. You may also consider giving your children simple jobs around the house and teach them why each job is important. In every classroom, just as in every family, everyone has an important role to play.
- Practice Following Simple Instructions. By the time kids are ready to start school, they should be able to follow simple 2-step instructions. For example, when they are getting ready for bed you should be able to tell them to brush their teeth and put their pajamas on. In school, they will be expected to do many simple tasks on their own without repeatedly being told to do it.
- Help Develop Both Gross and Fine Motor Skills. Encourage your children to get outside and play. Outdoor play is not only great for their bodies; it is also great for their minds. Studies show kids that get plenty of exercise will do better in school. It helps with their focus and their ability to sit still and pay attention to the teacher. Youngsters also need the opportunity to work on their fine motors skills. You can do that by giving them a pencil and paper and letting them draw pictures or practice their letters.
- Practice Writing Upper and Lower Case Letters. Children will not necessarily need to know how to write all their letters, but you can teach them to recognize as many as possible. You can also start teaching them the sounds each letter makes. There are so many fun and easy ways to do that. A favorite way is by naming common items you see. On your next drive, read signs and point out letters in the sign and the sounds they make.
- Teach them to Write and Recognize their Name. Teachers say teaching them first and last name is best, but if everyone would come to school on day one being able to recognize their first name, those first few weeks of school would go smoother. Help them practice writing their name repeatedly. If you can teach them to capitalize the first letter that will put them another step ahead.
- Instill a Love of Books and Reading. Reading is the greatest gift you can give your children to set them on the path to school success. Teach them to hold a book properly and talk to them about the parts of the books like the spine or the cover. Reading to your child will build their vocabulary, language and communication skills while also improving their cognitive skills. If you can instill a love of reading and learning in your child at an early age, you are essentially giving them a ticket to the world. Books take you anywhere you want to go and can be a gateway to limitless possibilities.
- Teach Basic Math Skills. Before starting school, children should have a basic understanding of counting and numbers. When you go for a walk have them count their steps. When you give them a snack, count the treats. The key is to make it fun and entertaining. Practice adding and subtracting with everyday items.
- Practice Telling Stories. Storytelling is such an important tool in early education. It is a fun way for youngsters to communicate complicated ideas and activities. Have your child practice telling stories whether fact or fiction. Having them tell you what happened on the playground or what they did after breakfast is a great way to start teaching story elements. Storytelling is a great way for children to learn to explain the order in which something happened. Oral storytelling helps expand your child’s imagination.
These are just a few of the things to help get your child ready to succeed in kindergarten. Below you will find more resources to help further your child’s readiness to exceed great expectations as they enter Metro Schools.
Further Parent Resources for Kindergarten Readiness
- Summer Activity Guide (Available in English, Spanish & Arabic)
- iTrails/Countdown to Kindergarten Website
- Kindergarten Readiness Tip Sheet
- Metro Summer Resource List – List of local free/low cost summer programs event around Metro Nashville for families.
- Kindergarten Transition Timeline
For any other questions about the 2017-18 school year, visit our Back to School Central page.