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I have had a great response from readers all about my tips for preparing your children for Kindergarten! I decided to write a blog post to elaborate more on these tips and provide a FREE resource that you can share with parents. You can grab it at the bottom. Or you could also just share this blog post with them for more details!
The first set of tips that I shared are all about Literacy Skills:
- Letters in your child’s name– practice having your child spelling their name out loud. You can also have them practice using letter magnets to build their name. We have these letters at our house that we use on the refrigerator. After your child can spell their name for you, have them attempt to write it. Warning: it will NOT be perfect!!! We want them to like writing, so if you constantly tell them they are doing it wrong, they will feel discouraged and not want to do it anymore. If they attempt an A and it kind of sort of resembles an A, THAT’S AWESOME! It will get better every time as their fine motor skills strengthen. Always encourage, never criticize. I have this Name Packet if you would like to have your child start practicing and tracing their name.
- Environmental Print– you will be amazed at how many words are around you once you teach your child to start pointing them out! HA! Teach them that letters make up words and there are words ALL around us. Have them look for road signs, the labels on their food, at the store, etc.
- Letters of the Alphabet- One main word: EXPOSURE. Expose them to letters and their names AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE! One of my favorite ways to introduce and practice identifying letters is videos! There are a TON of awesome videos on Youtube for kids to sing along to and visualize the letters.I also love the FREE Starfall app. My son loves playing with it on his iPad. Do not stress about sounds yet, but if your child has mastered naming the letters, sounds are a great next step!
- READING!- Read to your child! I teach my students that there are 3 ways to read a book: reading the words, reading the pictures, and retelling the story. Whether you are the one reading to them, or if they want to retell the story using their own words, exposure to reading and stories is so important to building Literacy skills! Also, as questions after you have read a story. Who were the characters? How do you think they felt during this part of the story? Where did the story take place?
Next up are 5 Math Skills!
- Counting– I teach students to touch each object as they say the number out loud. You can also have them drag them into a group as they count so they can separate from what they have counted and what they haven’t. This is called one-to-one correspondence. We count everything in our house! Stairs, snacks, toys, etc. Make it fun!
- More/less- This one is usually pretty easy when your child wants “more” of a snack! Ha! A fun way to practice is I always ask my son to show me a group of more/less goldfish than the group in his bowl.
- Rote Counting– Youtube videos are another great resource for this! Hearing the video while also seeing the numeral in the video is super helpful for kids.
- Shapes- Start with identifying the 4 basic shapes: circle, square, rectangle, triangle. In kindergarten they will learn all about how to compare them, count their sides, combine them, and more! 3d Shapes are also introduced in Kindergarten. We learn all about spheres, cones, cylinders, rectangular prisms, and more!
- Colors and Patterns-You child should know their colors before coming to Kindergarten. Patterns are a fun way to practice colors!
Math and Literacy are SUPER important, but so are Fine Motor Skills!!! PLEASE spend just as much time on these skills as you would academic skills.
Fine Motor Skills:
- Pencils and Crayons- Have your child practice the pincer grasp to hold their pencils and crayons. Practice working on controlling their hand/wrist to try and color in the lines. This will not be perfect- remember to encourage and not criticize! Tracing is a great way to start encouraging your child to write. I have a packet full of activities HERE.
- Zipping & Unzipping- This is so important during the Winter when we are trying to get out the door to recess. Make sure your child can independently zip their jacket!
- Cutting- I specified shapes, but have your child practice cutting anything! You could draw lines or shapes on paper and have them practice. These are the best scissors for tiny hands.
- Buttoning & Unbuttoning- If your child’s pants require this after using the bathroom, they should practice how to do this before school starts.
- Lunch Time- Ok this is a BIG ONE! Imagine a teacher having to help 25 students open every single container at lunch….they would never get to eat if they just waited around for help! Pack your child’s lunch the same way you would send it to school and have them practice unpacking, opening, eating, AND cleaning up! This will help SO much, they will feel so proud to be so independent! I teach my students to also make a trash pile for when it is time to clean up. Usually students aren’t allowed to get up and throw things away until the end of the lunch period, so if they make a pile, they can just grab everything at once and throw it away.
- Stacking and Building- Legos are awesome for this. They can really help strengthen those tiny fingers and develop their fine motor skills- which will also eventually help with pencil grasp!