Hi y’all! Preparing your child for kindergarten can feel overwhelming.
Am I teaching them them what they need to know? How well will they adjust to their new surroundings?
I struggled with these questions when my twins were approaching kindergarten. Teaching them to walk and eat with a spoon felt easy compared to actual education.
I was also nervous that they would not be socially ready and not do well at making friends. My kids never went to Preschool, and had never been to a babysitter. But to my surprise (and relief) they excelled beyond my expectations!
Disclaimer– I AM NOT a professional therapist, doctor, teacher, or child rearing guru. These suggestions are simply ideas that have worked for my family. If you are looking for professional help, please discontinue reading now. But if you are interested in some helpful tips I encourage you to read on!
Preparing your child for kindergarten in 3 simple steps
The first step in preparing your child for kindergarten is preparing yourself. If you are excited they will be excited. But if you show any sign of nervousness or sadness, they will pick up on it very easily. Let your child know that it is OKAY to be a little nervous or even scared. But fear should never keep us from new experiences because we may actually end up loving it! Then use that moment to share a story about a time when you were nervous but didn’t let it hold you back. You could also share a time when you did let fear hold you back and how you now regret it. You will be surprised how much a 5 or 6 year old understands!
Mommas and Papas, I know it’s tough to see your babies growing up and becoming a little more independent. But, remember, this is what you have been working so hard for the past few years. This is a GOOD thing! Take advantage of the quiet while they are at school and do something that you haven’t had time for. Or, if you have other children at home spend more one on one time with them. (My youngest loves “Him and Mommy” time.)
The second step in preparing your child for kindergarten is explaining what kindergarten is all about. Take time to relieve some of their anxiety about school by sharing as many details as possible! You could also get creative and set up “school” in your living room. Set up work stations, prepare a few basic lessons, and don’t forget snack time and recess! Sometimes kids learn best by doing versus listening.
Another creative option is to build a classroom with Legos or use Barbies to act out what school is like. Keeping your child interested will make the next step MUCH easier!
The third step in preparing your child for kindergarten is creative learning. I remember my mom would use dots to create letters on writing paper and we would connect the dots. So, that’s what I did with my twins. My daughter loved it, however, my son was not interested at all! I would be mentally exhausted and he would be in tears at the end of the day. Finally, I realized I needed to meet him in the middle. We tried different techniques until we found what worked for him. One of which was focusing on individual letters before having him write all 26 at once!
Mommas (and Papas), remember there is no rule book on teaching your kids. Find what method works best for you and your child! Learning from beginning to end is ideal but if your child recognizes and writes the letter T before C that’s okay too!
(Keep reading for Creative Learning Tips!)
preparing for kindergarten- basic EDUCation and classroom etiquette
**Basics may vary depending on state and/or school district. Please contact your local school for the exact list to ensure your child is accurately prepared!
Basics your child should know before starting kindergarten:
- Know and write their name.
- Recognize letters (upper and lower case) and their sounds.
- Understand and count syllables. (Teach your child to clap out each syllable to help count the number of syllables in a word.)
- Count to 20.
- Identify and write numbers 0-10.
- Know colors.
- Identify and draw shapes.
- Be able to explain what the author and illustrator of a book do.
(Author writes the book. Illustrator draws the pictures in a book.)
- Know how to correctly hold a book/ know front from back.
- Understand what the “title” is and where it is located on/in a book.
- Point at the first word you would read on a page and follow the sentence with your finger.
Your child will learn these in kindergarten, but give them a jumpstart by practicing before school starts. But ONLY if they fully understand the prior list. Overwhelming them with too much information can cause them to shut down and not enjoy learning!
- Count to 100.
- Write numbers 10-100.
- Addition and Subtraction. (0-10)
- Memorize and identify “sight words”.
Teach your child proper classroom etiquette:
- Stay quiet while the teacher is talking.
- Raise your hand to ask a question/ use restroom.
- Walk in a single file line.
- Keep your desk clean and organized.
- Pick up mess/ put items back in their proper place.
- Treat books and toys in classroom with respect.
- Talk kindly to classmates and teachers.
- Follow all rules!
Creative Learning IDEAS to prepare your child for kindergarten
ABC’s– preparing your child for kindergarten
- Make a list of your child’s favorite characters- one for each letter of the alphabet. (e.g.- B= Batman or E= Elsa)
Sometimes having a visual can help a child memorize letters a little easier. As they get better with memorization, turn this into an activity- “Match the beginning letter to correct word”.
- Grab a piece of construction paper and some alphabet stamps.
Show your child what order they go in, then let them try. It may also help if they begin with 3-4 letters at a time! (P.S.- it’s okay if they get it wrong. It may take 100x but practice makes perfect!)
- Alphabet memorization cards.
Memorization is key when learning to read. Give your child a jumpstart by strengthening their minds with ABC cards! You can also create an ABC Match Game to make it more fun!
- Connect the dots.
Write letters using dots, then have your child trace them. Then, have your child create letters with dots and you trace them. This is a great way to show them that “you” are having fun learning, which may help them want to try again!
- SPELL and WRITE name.
My oldest son was more willing to spell and write his name before he was interested in the alphabet as a whole. If that’s the case with your child, roll with it! If you are worried they won’t know the alphabet in order, add the ABC song to their daily activities!
- Use small objects (blocks, crayons, etc.) to teach counting.
Fingers are handy when counting (I still use mine sometimes, hehe). But what happens when they get to 10? I noticed my kids were not as confident once they needed to count past 10. So, we started using bubble gum! (It just happened to be the closest object when I had the idea.) This helped my daughter immensely!
* I used this method with ADDITION and SUBTRACTION as well! My son took to Math like a fish to water but my daughter struggled with the concept. However, having a visual made her more interested which helped with her comprehension.
- Connect the dots.
I also used this method with the alphabet. But it also works well with numbers, especially with #2. (The curve was tough for my twins to figure out.)
- Number cards.
To help with the memorization aspect use number cards! You can also get creative and make a Number Match Game.
- Go fishing!
With my DIY FISHING GAME you can have fun while learning! Even the smallest amount of learning can have a huge impact when you are preparing your child for kindergarten.
- Clothespin Counting!
Clothespins can attach to just about anything, which makes them a fantastic learning tool. Simply number the clothespin and have your child clip the correct number to a numbered picture. (Or create a DIY CLOTHESPIN COUNTING FLOWER.) You could also write a number on a paper plate and have your child attach the correct amount of clothespins to the plate.
Tips for Preparing your childs social skills
I think I was more nervous about my twins social skills going into kindergarten than I was their actual education. I knew they were becoming fast learners but making friends doesn’t always come so easy.
They had never really been around kids their own age. Their cousins are all older and my friends kids are younger. Plus we never sent them to Preschool because I was a stay at home mom. I could teach them Reading and Math, but how do you teach a kid to make friends?
a few things I learned during my childs “friend making” process.
Firstly, making friends kind of comes natural, especially at that age. They may be a little shy in the classroom but once recess hits they quickly bond on the swings and slides!
Secondly, kindergarten teachers are angels! They have the patience and the ability to create a comfortable setting for the kiddos. The child quickly forgets about the fear and apprehension they walked in with!
Thirdly, don’t take it too seriously if your child comes home saying that they don’t have any friends. My son came home every other day saying he didn’t have any friends. But would then talk about 5 kids he played Superheroes with at recess. Sometimes kids get the idea that because another kid doesn’t want to play what they are playing means that they aren’t friends anymore. So, listen carefully and remind your child of all of the friends that did play with them! I always tell my kids that “one REALLY good friend is worth more than all the friends in the world”.
And lastly, teach your child how to be a good friend. Making friends is the easy part, but KEEPING friends can be tricky. Start by asking your child what they think a friend should act like. Then explain that if they want their friends to be nice and fun (which is usually what my kids say) that’s how they should act as well. The Golden Rule says it best- “Treat others like you want to be treated”.
Top 4 tips for being a good friend:
- Talk kindly.
- Never hit.
- Be considerate.
(Lose the “it’s my way or the highway” attitude.)
I hope these tips have been helpful! If you have any questions or have tips to share with me please feel free to leave a comment below!
Another great learning tool during “screen time” is ABCmouse.com. This was a fantastic investment, even for my youngest!