Now that preschool is out for the summer, you might be wondering how you can best prepare your soon-to-be kindergartener for the challenges that await her once she starts “big kid school.” Today’s kindergarteners are expected to know so much more than they were when we were children; I’ve heard it said that kindergarten is the new first grade. Kids usually learn to read by the end of the first year of kindy, and they’re often expected to know at least some letter sounds, numbers and shapes and colors. Here are a few ways that you can help your little one prepare for the fun of kindergarten:
- Get your child into a good routine. If she went to preschool, she’s probably already accustomed to waking up and going to bed at certain times. Although it’s tempting to let kids sleep in in the summer, it’s really better to keep her on a flexible schedule. While occasional later nights are harmless, try not to let her get out of the habit of sticking to a routine; not having to rouse a cranky sleepyhead will go a long way toward ensuring kindergarten success!
- Keep up with socialization. For little children, social skills like sharing, taking turns and getting along with others need to be practiced. If your child went to preschool, then she was able to spend hours each week interacting with other young kids; staying home all summer, either with just you or with her siblings, won’t keep these skills sharp. Take her to the library story hour, go swimming at your community pool and visit the playgrounds. Don’t be too quick to settle disputes, but remind your child to use her words when she finds herself in the midst of a disagreement.
- Let her practice her small motor skills. While fledgling five-year-olds often don’t have the dexterity to practice perfect handwriting, she can still exercise those finger muscles by playing with playdoh, coloring with crayons, building with small legos and using other small toys.
- Make learning the ABCs and 123s fun and relevant. Count items as you go through the grocery store, refer to quantities by their proper names (a dozen eggs, a pound of bacon, two cups of flour), sing alphabet songs, sound out words together. She will be learning sight words in kindergarten; practice this skill by labeling some of the items in your home.
- Keep her occupied with educational toys. There are several on the market that are a lot of fun and more educational than typical video games. My kids loved their LeapFrog Leapsters when they were that age. Tag Books are made by the same company, and allow kids to read fun stories with the aid of a special pen.
The transition from preschool to kindergarten is a big one, for both you and your child! Taking a casual approach to getting her ready will go a long way in making this a positive experience, which paves the way for a lifetime of eager learning.
How did you prepare your little one for kindergarten? Do you have any tips to share with our readers?