September is just around the corner, and many parents will be sending their children off to school for the first time. Even for kids who have been in daycare or preschool programs, kindergarten can seem like a big step, and it is often the parents who are the most concerned. From bus rides to bathrooms, there is a lot for parents to think about, and the biggest worry on many parents' minds is whether their little ones are equipped with enough academic knowledge.
The truth is, being ready for Kindergarten is less about whether a little one can read and add, and more about life skills and emotional development. While many of these skills will be taught and developed in Kindergarten, we thought it might help to give some suggestions for how you can help your child be prepared:
1. How to recognize and write her name: Many students begin kindergarten without being able to read. They will be learning to recognize and write their name. Recognizing her name will help your child identify his or her coat hook, work area and more, and make her feel more at home in the classroom. Writing his name means he can label his work, and is an important step towards full literacy.
- How you can help: Make a simple name puzzle by writing your child's name on two strips of paper. Cut one into individual letters, and have him arrange the letters into his name. Purchase a small notebook, and write your child's name on it, and at the top of each page. Have her copy her name one time each day. Encourage your child to sign his artwork and craft projects Surround your child with her name at home. Simple ways to do this include making an "Ella's Room" sign for her door, and creating a personalized placemat together.
2. The full name of each of their parents or caregivers:
- How you can help: Ask your child if he or she knows your full name. If not, practice learning it by pretending you are are strangers meeting for the first time, and introducing each other. For extra fun, have your child pretend to be you when she introduces herself. Puppets are fun to include too.
3. His home address and phone number: If they are developmentally ready, they may be able to learn their own address and phone number.
- How you can help: This simple song is a great way to teach phone numbers. Replace the numbers with the numbers in the phone number you want to learn.
My Phone Number
(Tune: Frere Jacques)
That's our phone
That's our phone
4. What foods she is allergic to, how to avoid them, and what to do if she has an allergic reaction
- How you can help: Make a plan with your child for where things like an EpiPen will be. Make sure your child knows why it is important not to share foods (for the protection of other kids as well). Get out some puppets, and take turns explaining the allergy, and saying "no thank you" to foods from others. Show him where to look for allergy warnings, such as the peanut label, on packages as well.
5. The name of a trusted adult that can be contacted in the case of an emergency:
- How you can help: Talk with your child about who you have designated as an emergency contact person if the school can't reach either parent. Make sure he is aware that this person may come if you can't.
6. How to accomplish a complete bathroom routine, including buttons, buckles and zippers
- How you can help: As you think about back to school clothes, consider whether your little one is able to use all of the fasteners in the clothes you are sending him in, and how long it takes them to do that. Pants with a particularly tricky button, for example, could mean an accident during the rush of school. Have a "fashion show" where he tries on the outfits. In the weeks before school starts, practice allowing your child to fully dress and undress himself. Pack an extra set of clothes and underwear in her backpack just in case.
7. How to put on and take off jackets, shoes, mittens etc.
- How you can help: Those lace up runners may be adorable, but if your little one can't get them on when it comes time for gym they aren't a very practical choice. Choose shoes, jackets and other gear that is easy for your child to put on and take off by herself.
8. How to open all lunch containers:
- How you can help: In the days before school starts, pack up a typical school lunch in her lunch box and have a picnic, even if it's just on the living room floor. Let her practice opening and closing all of the different types of containers. Can she get the lid off what you have packed her sandwich in? Is he able to open the straw and poke it into his juice box? Have a few different picnics so that you can test everything out. If possible, have one of your picnics on the school grounds so that your child can become familiar with his new environment.
9. How to introduce herself to others: The chances are good that there are going to be several kids in your child's class that she does not already know. In addition, he may be meeting teachers, bus drivers, lunch monitors and other adults for the first time.
- How you can help: Have him pretend that you are someone new, and introduce himself by saying his name. Practice some helpful small talk too. Your child may want to compliment his new friend on his fun backpack, or ask what sports and activities she enjoys.
10. How to sit still and quietly: From circle time to table work, kindergarten involves some element of being quiet, focusing, and listening without interrupting. The time that each child will be able to do this will vary - and kindergarten will allow for that!
- How you can help: Drop by your library or bookstore for storytime, or invite friends over for circle time and art.
11. How to use a pencil, crayons, scissors and a glue stick:
- How you can help: Get out the craft supplies, and let your student cut, colour, paste and create. Practice taking lids off and putting them back on. Draw simple shapes and lines on paper, and have your little one cut them out. A fun way to develop pencil skills is to work on a drawing project together. Start drawing on your own pages, and then after a few minutes switch. Continue drawing and switching and see what you create.
12. How to follow a simple sequence of 3-4 directions: Kids will often be given instructions such as "put your crayons away, select a book, and return to your seat", and it is important that they be able to remember and complete each task in order.
- How you can help: Sneak some sequencing into a silly movement game. See if your child can clap twice, spin around once, and then jump twice. Change roles, and let her come up with a series of silly things for you to do. You can also work sequences of directions into your day to day life. Instead of directing your child to wash his hands before dinner, ask him to wash his hands, put out the napkins, and then let his sister know dinner is ready.
How is your family preparing for the big day?