This fall my son will be starting kindergarten. Our whole family is excited about this transition and we have been preparing for it for some time. Here are some of the things we are doing to prepare. These are also activities that I recommend to families when I teach their children.
1. Take responsibility for his/her learning. When your child goes to kindergarten, his or her teacher will likely have 25–35 kindergarteners in his or her care. The teacher will make every effort to teach your child well and to adjust for his or her needs. Your child will be most successful if you share responsibility for educating your child with his or her teacher. In order to share responsibility, we practice numbers and letters at home. We have also begun explicit reading instruction. Help your child to be successful by frontloading the content for the year at home.
2. Have fun. Good teachers value student background knowledge and what children bring into the classroom. Give your child fun learning experiences that help them to build background knowledge. Children learn better when they already have some idea of the new information being presented to them. Do fun learning activities with your preschooler so that he or she has some background knowledge of the content that will be covered in the coming year. Play outside, visit museums and science centers, visit art museums, do art, travel and go on nature walks. This list is a beginning rather than an ending.
3. Teach social skills. Many of the social skills children need to be successful in school are taught in preschool. As children grow, their social needs change. In preparation for kindergarten, talk with your child about how to be a good friend. Talk with him or her about bullying. It is important to teach your child both about how not to be a bully and how to avoid being bullied by other children. Talk with children about using words rather than crying when they are frustrated, angry or sad. Students who can manage their emotions, will be more successful in the kindergarten classroom than those who are not.
4. Teach school behavior. My son attends a play-based preschool. I love our school, but because my son will not be attending a play-based kindergarten, we are having ongoing conversations about how kindergarten will be different. We talk about hand raising, focusing, sitting on the rug and listening to the teacher.
5. Read. In the first two years of school, children will learn to read. One important way children learn to read, is through being read to and with on a regular basis. Read books you love. Read books they love. Read non-fiction and fiction. Read about things that they are interested in and things they want to know more about. Read!
If you find that your child is having difficulty preparing for this transition, contact us. Our services may be of assistance.