As a teacher’s aide and mother of a kindergartner who is the number 1 student in his class, I’m always looking to stay one step ahead of the game. Although my son’s school admission results showed that he was smart enough to skip kindergarten, we decided to take it slow. Kindergarten is part of growing up and I didn’t want him to miss out on this precious period. Now that he’s about to start first grade, I want to make sure he’ll sail through it. Here are some things I’m doing to prep him for this new challenge. Hopefully these steps will help you prep your child too.
At the end of kindergarten, your child must be reading at a level 5, and at the end of first grade, your child’s reading should be at a level 14. To help him get to this point, read with or to him daily. Over the summer break, visit the library to pick up some books that are equal to or slightly higher than your child’s reading level. Many libraries have summer reading programs that offer rewards after reading a certain number of books. This might help motivate your child to read. You can always create your own reading program, and set goals and rewards for achieving them. Another thing I do, is turn on the closed captioning feature on the TV, so when he watches cartoons, he can read along when the characters speak.
Just because it’s summer break, doesn’t mean homework stops. I continue to do homework with my child every day. He doesn’t perceive it as homework, because I’m all about making it fun. I buy colorful crayons for him to use and I get homework books. These colorful books are available according to grade level at your local book store. They come with sticker sheets so you can reward your child at the end of the homework session. For writing, I get a homework book that includes the alphabet, and various sentences. He practices neatness, punctuation, capitalization and writing the letters in the correct manner.
In addition to using first-grade math homework books, I test my child daily on his math skills. I randomly ask him to add or subtract certain numbers, and I also use coins to get him used to counting money. He’s really into saving money right now and enjoys counting it. Sometimes he’ll test me on a math problem just so he can correct me when I pretend to get it wrong. Again, my emphasis on fun. Children learn easily when they enjoy what they’re doing.
After reading and writing 50 sight words in kindergarten, kids will have to know another 50 words in first grade. My son knew all 50 words before entering kindergarten and I want to accomplish the same before he enters first grade. He already knows all 50 first grade words, and is now practicing writing them. Knowing the sight words, which are words that are frequently used in the English language, will also improve his reading skills.