Things to do Before Kindergarten
That first day of Kindergarten is going to be a very stressful yet exciting time for your child and you as a parent. Parents have many concerns regarding social aspects, academics, and behavior. While your child’s teacher is responsible for classroom learning, there are several things that responsible parents can do to help make their child a successful student.
Read with your child: One could write books on the benefits of reading with your child outside of the classroom. Pick topics that your child finds interesting, especially informational texts. When reading, track where you are and ask the child questions about the story. Being read to should be an interactive activity for your child. Finally, show that you are excited about reading because your child will pick up on that attitude.
Count with your child: This does not mean that you are required to do counting exercises with your child on a regular basis, but you should be incorporating math into everyday things. When cooking or buying groceries you can be having your child count different objects to “help you out.” When your child is playing a board game you can have them count spaces and game pieces. Make it fun for your child and let them know how impressed you are with their new abilities.
Practice that alphabet: If you have the motivation than you can begin working on letter sounds with your child, but it is most important that your child has a good sense of the letters of the alphabet. Yes these will be taught when he or she is in the classroom, but this is your chance to make sure that your child has a firm foundation for later years. Tie this one in to nightly reading and invest in some alphabet books for your child. There are many very well written alphabet books out there.
Writing his or her name: Regardless of your child’s ability to write anything else, your child should be able to write his or her name when entering Kindergarten. Don’t fret the small stuff like handwriting or correct capitalization; the teacher will work on that throughout the year. The important thing is that your child can put all of the letters in the correct order and that they know that that string of letters makes their name.
Your Information: Kindergarten is a bit young for things like phone numbers or addresses, but your child needs to have some basic knowledge about you. It is amazing how many students I run across that don’t know their parents first names. Make sure that your child knows your name, and a little bit about you.
Their Information: Students need to have an understanding of who they are and where they come from. This is helping to give them a sense of identity and belonging inside and outside the classroom. Make sure that your son or daughter knows there last name and birthday in particular. Aside from those two things, talk to your child about his or her likes and dislikes. This early time in education is when your child will get a sense of self, and you can help in that process.
Colors: Learning about colors is another thing that will really bolster your child in kindergarten. Yes colors will be covered in class, but this is another skill that can easily be incorporated into every day play with your child. Another great addition to this would be doing some experimenting with colors. You will have a very impressed teacher if your child comes to school knowing that blue and yellow make green.
Shapes: This one is very easy for children to pick up on as it is a concrete thing to learn. Your child doesn’t need to know trapezoids, octagons, and other less common shapes; but they should understand the fundamentals of basic shapes. Talk to your child about what makes a triangle, square, or rectangle. Have them draw the shapes for you to firm up their understanding. Look for examples of these shapes when you and your child are out and about.
The Million Dollar Question:
You might be asking why all of this burden goes to the parent. Isn’t it the teacher’s responsibility to cover this material? In a word “yes.” The fact remains however that if you give your child some building blocks of knowledge to work with than they will be learning more material faster. No responsible teacher will start teaching a student to read until that student has mastered the alphabet, or start addition and subtraction prior to that child having suitable number sense. So yes the teacher is there to teach and will do so to the best of his or her ability, but if you send your child to kindergarten with a solid foundation than your child will be prepared to learn faster.