Getting ready for Kindergarten
Your child is going to Kindergarten next year. What can you be doing between now and then to prepare your child? Lots! Below are some quick and easy things to help you and your child prepare for “Big School”.
Parents often ask if their child needs to know how to read, write, and do math before entering school. Absolutely not! The Teachers and Early Childhood Educator will work on that with your child. However, there are many things that you can do with your child before school starts to help building the foundation for learning. Reading with your child is very important as this is a special time that you and your child can share together. If your child sees that reading is important to you, often it will become of importance to them. Children go through many stages as they learn to read. They often start by reading books using the pictures. They memorize books, especially the ones that rhyme, and these are often the ones they want to hear over and over and over again. Eventually children will start to point to familiar words in books that they have memorized. They aren’t necessarily “reading” the words, but they are making the crucial connection that the words they hear are written on the page. Next your child will begin to recognize certain words, usually small ones like “a” or “the” or words that are similar to their name. Enjoy reading with your child, celebrate what your child can do right now, and look forward to what will happen next!
What can you do to help prepare your child learn math concepts? One option is to go to your nearest retail store and find a variety of toys and games to help your child learn to count, add, create patterns and sort objects. These kits are colorful, fun and exciting for a time, however, they can be expensive and children can get tired of them if they have mastered the concepts. There are fun and exciting things you can do with your child that can be just as effective as buying these toys, and the best part is they are FREE. What is an easy way to help a child learn the concepts of big, bigger and biggest? Get them to arrange the soups cans or cereal boxes in your cupboard. Need to help your child with counting? Allow them to help you make a grocery list and then when you get to the store, get them to collect the items from the list (under your careful and watchful eye). Your child will have a lot of fun collecting 3 red apples, 1 yellow apple and two green apples for the family fruit bowl. What if you need to buy 5 bananas too – how many pieces of fruit do you have in your shopping cart now? Need help with the laundry? Your child might enjoy pairing the socks (a patterning activity) or organizing the laundry into piles for each member of your family (a sorting activity). Activities like these don’t cost any money – they just need a bit of extra time to guide your child through them.
Many of you are probably saying “I do some of these things with my child already!” This is awesome. Continue to do this but make it more challenging for your child by adding more materials, or asking more challenging questions of your child. This will go a long way in preparing your child for the learning that will take place in Kindergarten.
Need some tips or tricks to help your child adjust to the routines in Kindergarten? Getting to and from school safely will become an important part of you and your child’s day. Before the school year begins, take your child to the school and playground so it becomes familiar. Attend the school’s kindergarten information session or ask the school if there is another time you could visit the school with your child. If your child will be walking to school, take lots of walks on that route so that your child is comfortable with the trek. If your child will be taking the bus, see if your school schedules a “practice” bus ride for Kindergarten students prior to the school year.
How about school lunches? Buying the perfect backpack is important but so is the finding the right lunch bag for your child. If your child has a hard time with zippers, you might want to select a lunch bag that closes with Velcro or a drawstring. What about the container that you will send milk in, or a sandwich? When picking it out, have your child try it out in the store to make sure they can get it open themselves. There is nothing worse than a child who is thirsty and they can’t open their water or milk contain. Once you have the perfect lunch bag and containers, why not try them out during the summer during a picnic to the park. A great way to make sure children know how to use things is to try them out before school starts.
Although the containers for the lunches are important, what goes in the containers is essential to ensuring your child has a successful day. A school lunch is not the time or place to introduce tuna sandwiches to your child if they have never had them before. All parents want their child to be successful during the day, and one thing that contributes to that success is being nourished and hydrated. Make sure that you send foods that your child likes, and will eat for their lunches and snacks. If that means that every single day your child gets a cheese sandwich, then send a cheese sandwich each and every day. Kindergarten is hard work, and the fuel from the snacks and lunch is what will keep your child going all day long.
It is not too early to start thinking about what you can do to help your child get ready for Kindergarten and hopefully these tips will help you and your child!
Submitted by Teresa Sulowski RECE, Early Childhood Educator Supervisor, London District Catholic School Board