Kindergarten can be a scary transition for kids and parents alike. Nearly every parent wonders, “Is my child ready?” No matter where we choose to educate our children, we all want to be assured that they are where they need to be physically, cognitively and emotionally.
Let’s face it, kindergarten isn’t what it used to be. Right or wrong, it is the world we live in and there are heightened expectations for students entering kindergarten. The following list is intended to help you prepare your child, in a variety of developmental areas, to make the transition to kindergarten as smooth and possible.
Just 15-20 minutes of playing with your child each day can make a world of difference!
Physical Development (Gross and Fine Motor)
- Give your child plenty of opportunities for outdoor play: running, jumping and climbing.
- Teach your child to write his/her name and to recognize the spelling of his/her name. To start, write his/her name using a highlighter and encourage him/her to trace over it. Be sure that he/she forms the letters from top to the bottom.
- Play with playdough or clay regularly. Roll, squish, stamp and even cut it! Teach your child to use child-safe scissors to cut out various shapes and creative arts and crafts projects.
- Have your child help you sort items according to color, size, and shape (blocks, toys, and other household items work well).
- Practice counting aloud to 20, play games with rhyming words, and identifying colors.
- Talk about positional and directional concepts like up/down, over/under, in/out, behind/in front of, top/bottom, beside/between, off/on, stop/go.
- Talk about opposite words such as big/little, empty/full, slow/fast.
- Read to your child for a combined total of AT LEAST 20 minutes each day.
- After reading, ask your child to recall the events in the story.
- Give your child plenty of opportunities to draw pictures of things around them.
- Always encourage pretend play and occasionally join your child in his/her fantasy world.
- Use a variety of materials to let your child, paint, draw and explore!
- Encourage your child to persist in tasks when encountering a problem by giving him/her tasks slightly above his/her current ability level. When your child cannot find a solution on his/her own, encourage him/her to calmly ask for help.
- Play board games to practice turn-taking and how to handle winning or losing.
- Tell your child you expect him/her to clean up after play.
- For peer socialization, children need to interact with other children at playgrounds, parks and sports teams.
Common Requests from Teachers
- Teach children how to put on their coats, jackets, and/or sweaters.
- Have your child practice using a zipper.
- Reinforce using manners like saying “please” and “thank you.” Encourage children to ask for help as needed.
- Encourage independence in the bathroom. For example, cleaning themselves and washing their hands with soap.
- Teach children how to open juice box, water bottle, and thermos.
One of the best ways to prepare your child for kindergarten is through play, real-life experiences, and simple conversation.
About the Author:
Mary Ann Donnelly completed her Bachelors Degree in Education at Trinity College and a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology at Villanova University. She joined CORA Services in 1985 to provide Individual Counseling; Group Counseling; numerous classroom Guidance Programs to St. Matthew’s Elementary School. She supervised the Peer Helper Program at St Matthew School for 26 years. The 8th grade Peer Helpers have tutored over 200 students in reading and math usually with great success. In addition to CORA, Mary Ann worked in Social Services in a Geriatric Health Care facility for 25 years. She completed psycho-social evaluations for the Geriatric Residents; facilitated Support Groups for CareGivers of Geriatric Community as well as providing In-Service Programs for the staff of the Geriatric Community.