Wondering what your soon-to-be kindergartener needs to know before the first day? As a kindergarten teacher, I spent many days leading up to the start of school calming parents’ anxiety about their child’s transition. Not knowing what their child REALLY needed to know was unnerving.
To ease their uncertainty, I passed along this checklist of the top five skills I hope every child has mastered before he walks through my classroom doors. A few items might surprise you.
Because kindergarten focuses so heavily on teaching children to read and write, ensure that your child has a solid foundation of pre-reading skills. Spend time reading with him everyday, talk about the books, sing rhyming songs and teach him the names and sounds of letters.
Buckling a Car Seat
Not only does buckling a seatbelt without help make the car pick up line move more smoothly, it also gives children the chance to build their independence. Kindergarteners need to be able to complete school projects on their own. After all, there is only one teacher in a room filled with many students. Buckling is a first step toward autonomy.
Basic Art Skills
Let’s face it: kindergarten is famous for creating irresistible art projects. Making sure that these activities don’t overwhelm your child requires knowing a few art basics.
Teach him how to cut with children’s scissors, take marker caps on and off, and draw simple stick figures. Your child will feel prepared to create masterpieces and will strengthen his hand muscles so that he can write heartwarming kindergarten stories for you later.
Imagine a class filled with children who couldn’t follow directions. It would be a NIGHTMARE. Kindergarteners who know how to listen to a teacher’s request and follow through on it have a much easier time settling into class expectations. You can teach your child to follow two-step directions by:
- Playing Simon Says: “Simon says, ‘Jump on one leg and touch your nose.’”
- Following a cooking recipe: “Please crack two eggs into the bowl and whisk them.”
- Finishing chores around the house: “Please pick up your socks and put them in the laundry basket.”
Being a Good Friend
Learning how to start conversations, invite friends to play and apologize when we make mistakes is hard. Even for adults. You can give your soon-to-be-kindergartener a jumpstart by reading books on friendship, brainstorming with your child how to behave before he starts a play date and setting up play dates so that he has plenty of opportunity to practice.
With these five skills in place, your child will be well on his way to beginning kindergarten as an all-star. Want more? Check out our Ultimate Preschool Pack that takes the guess work out of helping your child get ready for school.