Thursday, May 24, 2012

Get Your Kiddo Ready for Kindergarten

As summer quickly approaches I am winding down my kindergarten class.  At the same time, I am trying to make sure that my own soon to be kindergartener is ready to begin her journey in the fall.  It got me thinking about all the easy, everyday things that we as parents can do to ensure early school success for our little ones.

Teaching is broken into small chunks in kindergarten, but it is still very important that your child can pay attention for short (10-15 minute) periods of time.
  • Play board games with your child.  Games such as Candy Land require sustained attention.  Encourage your child to stick with the game until it is complete.
  • Begin to read longer books with your child.  Continue reading picture books, but try reading a chapter book as well.  Do a chapter or two a night.  Ask your child to make a movie in their head about the book as you read.  Talk about key details from the story to strengthen their understanding.
  • Put together a puzzle together.  Talk about strategies such as sorting by like colors or putting the edge pieces together first.
Following Directions
Following multi-step directions is very important as your child begins school.  Throughout the day a kindergartener is expected to follow many sets of directions.
  • Play Simon Says.  Have Simon say 2-3 things rather than just one.  Ex: “Simon Says, clap your hands once, touch your toes then sit on the floor.”  Begin with two, then work up to four or even five.
  • Give your child multi-step directions.  Ask them to brush their teeth, put on their pajamas, then pick out a story.  Give them specific praise when they do well.  “I love the way you remembered to do all three things.  Way to go!”
Phonemic Awareness
Phonemic Awareness is the ability to hear sounds in words.  In order to help your child be ready to read, play many games using sounds.
  • Play “I Spy” using sounds and rhymes.  “I spy an animal that rhymes with ‘now’”.  I spy something with two wheels that starts with /b/.
  • Look for books with rhymes, alliteration and other plays on sounds.  Now is a great time to be reading Dr. Seuss beginner books with your child.
Number Concepts
In addition to knowing how to count to 10 and recognize most of those numbers, it is important that your child develop a concept of what numbers mean.  Having an idea of what “more” and “less” mean, being able to see or make basic patterns and working with shapes can help a great deal in math.
  • Tell and solve simple number stories with your child.  “If I have 2 apples and I eat 1, how many do I have left?  You can make up stories that are a good challenge for your child.
  • Get a set of Standard Unit Blocks and encourage your child to play with them often.  Standard Unit Blocks offer your child opportunity to work with all sorts of math concepts including area, size, number, patterns, fractions, measuring and estimation.
Concept Development
Expose your child to a wide range of experiences this summer.  Museums, shows, nature, and books are all places to build an understanding of our world.  This area is filled with free and almost free opportunities to learn!
  • If you haven’t already…check out…
    • Your local Children's Museum
    • Story Walks and Guided Nature trails
    • Small museums maintained by your Historical Society
    • Outdoor Concerts
    • Summer Reading Programs at the library
    • State Parks
    • Zoos and Botanical Centers
  • Discuss the experience.  Try to remember details, or sequence the events.  Use pictures from the event and create a memory book.  Let your child help write the captions.
Fine Motor Skills
In Kindergarten, your child will do a lot of writing and drawing.  Good fine motor skills help your child do school tasks without getting tired or frustrated.
  • Provide many creative materials at your house.  Crayons, pencils, markers, dry erase boards and chalkboards are all great.
  • Set up a collage station.  Get a nice pair of child scissors, a glue stick and some old magazine.  Let your child cut and glue to their heart’s delight.
  • Provide playdough.
  • Make bread and pizza dough with your child.  Kneading is a great fine motor strengthening activity.
Choose Screen Time Wisely
Limit the time that your child spends in front of a screen.  When they are watching TV or playing with your smartphone, use the time wisely.
  • Many PBS programs are specifically designed with pre-school learning in mind.  Sesame Street was originally designed to help children prepare for school.  Other PBS programs specifically teach reading, math and science concepts.
  • Angry Birds may be fun…but there are thousands of apps out there that will help your child learn Kindergarten material AND are a lot of fun!  Look for apps that teach sight words, letters, basic math skills, memory, logical thinking, and puzzle solving.
  • Please put away the screens during times and places that can enrich you child’s concept development, attention span and patience.  Let your child be a part of grocery shopping, teach them how to amuse themselves appropriately and quietly in a waiting room, play car games on road trips.

Read, Read, Read
Reading aloud to your child EVERY DAY is one of the most important things you can do to ensure school success.

What other ideas do you have?