Kindergarten is an important milestone in your child's life, it's their first step into formal education. Preparing children for this step is the job of parents and early learning centers. Nowadays, parents are feeling more and more pressure to make sure their children have the necessary skills that will put them on the same level or ahead of their peers. Early learning centers help teach preschoolers these vital skills that will put them on the path to kindergarten success, especially during the summer month to keep learning momentum going.
"I believe it's important for pre-kindergarten children to be able to follow directions and to have the ability to express their feelings." says K-12 principal Jolene Jackson. "Some of the reading and math skills I would like to see kids now coming into kindergarten are their letters and be able to describe some of the sounds, recognition of numbers 1-10, and be able to write and recognize their name and be able to cut with safety scissors,"
Here are 9 kindergarten readiness skills and how you can teach them to your child.
1. Shapes and Colors
- Kids love colors. Help them learn different colors by adding a little food coloring to their milk.
- Play games in which your child finds objects of particular colors and shapes around the house or in the neighborhood as you drive.
- Teach difficult shapes such as pentagons and diamonds by showing them how to draw them on paper and then cutting them out.
- To begin teaching your child to cut, allow them to rip or tear little pieces and strips of paper
- Purchase a good pair of child-safe scissors and let your child practice cutting/snipping along a straight line drawn on a piece of paper and progressing to cutting out different shapes.
- Use old magazines and let your child practice cutting photos out and have them make a collage of their favorite pictures.
- Cutting play dough is also fun for children.
- Have your child practice writing the alphabet and pick out the letters that spell their name.
- Teach them how to write their name and the difference between uppercase and lowercase letters.
- Use play dough and have them create different letters with it. This will not only help make reading and writing fun, but also improve their motor skills.
4. Letter Recognition
- Purchase a large set of letter refrigerator magnets. This allows your child to make learning fun as they move letters around to make simple words.
- Develop games and song rhymes to make learning letters and fun and engaging.
- Write a series of words on a piece of paper, for example, box, ran, back, fan, boy. Ask your child to circle all the words that begin with the letter b.
5. Number Recognition and Counting
- Grab two dice and a piece of paper with the numbers two through twelve written on it. Have your child roll the dice, count all the dots, and circle each number until you've rolled them all.
- Make counting part of everything. Have them count how many spoons are on the dinner table, how many socks you are folding.
- Use spare change and teach them the different amounts each coin represents. Then have them count out a specific amount like 55 cents.
6. Sounding out Letters
- Teach your child that letters represent sounds and that each one makes a different sound.
- Overemphasize the first sound in words to help your child hear the difference.
- Find items around the house that begin with the same sound and have them identify the letter that makes that sound.
7. Reading Readiness
- As you read to your child, run your finger under the words as you move through the sentence. This will teach them that words move left to right and top to bottom.
- Clapping out syllables of words (example; Pu-ppy has two syllables, A-man-da has three syllables)
- Playing a word game that separates the beginning and ending sound of a word. This allows them to put the sounds together to guess the word (example; say we are going to play a game. I am going to say the beginning and ending sound of a word, and you tell me what the word is. What is the word if I say b-all (ball), m-an (man), c-at (cat), com-pu-ter (computer)
- Read to your children every day using tools like song books, picture books, rhyming books and alphabet books.
8. Following Directions & Paying Attention
- Give your child a simple set of two and three step directions to follow. It could be something like; put on your pajamas, brush your teeth, and turn on your nightlight.
- Play the classic "Simon Says" game with them. It's a great game for following directions and paying attention to the changes in the words.
9. Develop Social Skills
- Teach your child to express their feelings in a way that isn't aggressive or involve crying.
- Give your children the opportunity to interact with other children in early learning centers, church or at the park.
- Talk about problems they might have, don't just tell something is wrong, explain to them why it is.
As you probably already know, there's no secret sauce when it comes to preparing your child for kindergarten. It takes consistent learning and challenging them. The points mentioned above highlight simple and effective strategies that are easy to modify for your child. Chances are you're already practicing many of these skills with your preschoolers now. Remember to not to rush or stress them, keep learning casual and entertaining. With just a little fun practice, your child will be prepared for the step into their kindergarten career. For additional information on getting your child ready for kindergarten, down our free ebook "10 Reasons Why Kindergarten is Too Late."