By Sahara Thurston and Geof Byerly
As children approach kindergarten age, parents are often more nervous than their children, wondering whether their kids will be ready academically, socially, emotionally, and physically for all that’s expected of them.
The Montelores Early Childhood Council has resources to help you prepare your child for kindergarten, and the earlier you begin, the better. Here are some daily activities to get them off to a good start. Remember, the learning process takes time.
If you don’t enroll your child in preschool, provide frequent experiences with other children to help them learn social skills like turn-taking and sharing. Play groups, library storytime, parties, and playing with kids are great activities.
Help your child learn social-emotional skills: tolerating frustration; sharing and taking turns; showing concern for the feelings of other kids; using words instead of actions for feelings; staying calm when things don’t go their way; and making friends. It’s important for your child to be able to do these things the first week of kindergarten so they can become part of the group.
Read with your child. They’ll learn word and letter recognition; expand their vocabulary; acquire knowledge about their world; and deepen their relationship with you. Ask thinking-type questions about the story, and have fun. Do activities related to the book. For example, read “Chicka, Chicka, Boom, Boom,” and use magnetic alphabet letters to match the letters in the book; sing and dance to the theme song. Read children’s books about going to kindergarten and the first day of school – be prepared to read these over and over.
Play with your child. Immerse yourself in their interests. Suspend your judgment, engage your imagination and enrich their play. Introduce language and concepts to bridge their experience with that of the school setting – even play school. Open-ended questions using “how” and “why” promote thought and reflection about their choices and values. Connect and support the development of your child’s identity in play, and have fun while you’re at it.
Help them develop motor skills with activities like watering plants using a spray bottle; picking up colored pom-poms with tweezers and putting them into a color-coded egg carton; tearing paper to make a collage; using finger paints and play dough, etc. It’s important that they learn the fine motor skills needed for independence in self-care activities, too: using utensils; zipping/unzipping; putting on and taking off clothes, shoes, and socks. Learning these skills will promote self-esteem and confidence as your child becomes more independent. Encourage them to take more responsibility for their things, chores and hygiene.
Attend our free family nights, many of which have a school readiness theme and include fun family activities and dinner. You’ll find fliers and how to RSVP at monteloresecc.org. There you can join our Pinterest site and visit the Parents and Families section for more about school readiness. Look for MECC’s school readiness calendar, which has ideas, tips and suggestions to incorporate in family life. Ask one of our community’s early childhood professionals for more ideas – MECC members want to help you prepare your child for school.
Sahara Thurston and Geof Byerly are the School Readiness/ Social Emotional Coaches for the Montelores Early Childhood Council.