Many parents want to know what they can do to prepare their child for kindergarten. This concern is understandable; going to kindergarten is a big step, and whether your child has been in preschool or not, kindergarten is a milestone. Here are some ideas and tips on how you can prepare your child for his or her first kindergarten experience.
Perhaps this is obvious, but it’s still something that parents may not think of. It’s a good idea to arrange a tour of the kindergarten and school, meet the teacher, and get a feel for the school’s layout. If possible, eat a meal in the cafeteria and spend enough time at the school to get oriented. Check for the location of bathrooms, the school nurse, and, of course, the classroom. Try to arrange more than one tour and meeting with the teacher so it becomes more familiar.
Kindergarten involves following directions. Teachers do not have time to shadow each child and see that she does what’s requested. Practice giving your child simple directions with multiple steps, such as, “Go into the kitchen, get your shoes, and bring them in here, please.” You can try making it into a game by timing how long it takes her to follow through.
A kindergartner needs to listen to instructions, whether it’s on a field trip or in the classroom. Some children seem to “tune out” and not listen, so honing these skills is a good idea before kindergarten. Make sure your child does not interrupt conversations, and practice waiting to speak. While we’re no longer in the “children must be seen and not heard” era, experts have noted children’s tendency to interrupt and speak before listening. It’s also a good idea to practice raising hands and being called on before speaking.
It’s been said that kindergarten is just as much (if not more) about socialization as it is academic skills. Prepare for this by getting your child into some group activities. It does not have to be complicated, but regular interactions with others – particularly other children – can help prepare your child for the social interactions of kindergarten.
Experts agree that there’s no need for flashcards for preschoolers. But brushing up on basic skills is a good idea so your child is ready. Making it fun and part of everyday life, teach your child shapes, colors, counting, and contact information such as his address, phone number, and the spelling of his name.
Daily reading time is considered very important for reading preparation. Sources suggest spending 20 to 30 minutes a day (at least) reading to your child. Take her to the library with you and choose books together, and attend read-alouds with other children if they are available in your area.
Handwriting can be challenging for some kindergarteners. To help prepare, encourage the formation of letters with chalk on the driveway, or have your child form letters with strips of clay.