Most parents want to make sure that their child is ready for Kindergarten before the time comes. But figuring out how exactly to make this happen can be a challenge. Here are some tips for developing Kindergarten readiness at home, brought to you by a former Kindergarten teacher with young kids. The best part – you are likely doing a lot of these things already! Now, it is just laid it out in a way that will help you make decisions that best support Kindergarten readiness for your child.
Tips For Developing Kindergarten Readiness at Home
Choose Screen Time Wisely
If you’re like many other parents, your children may get more time in front of the screen than you would like. While that’s a conversation for another day, there is good news. There absolutely is a way to make screen time work in your favor.
Not all television is created equal. There are many programs out there that if consumed thoughtfully, can help encourage Kindergarten readiness. Two favorite examples are Sesame Street and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.
Sesame Street is a tried and true favorite for many families. The characters are lovable, and the storylines can make even the most serious adults crack a smile. But importantly, Sesame Street also does a lot to help your child develop academic, social, and emotional knowledge and skills. From the Number of the Day to the examples of conflict resolution that are regularly present in the episodes, Sesame Street can positively influence your child and build a foundation for learning concepts that will be covered in Kindergarten. Researchers Melissa Kearny and Phillip Levine studied the historical effects of Sesame Street on Kindergarten readiness in children and found it to be comparable to Head Start programs.
Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, a cartoon reimagination of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, can also be a good resource for Kindergarten readiness. In this show, there are many examples of appropriate social and emotional behaviors. Even better, there are catchy songs that accompany the behavior being addressed in each episode. Children can learn a lot just by watching, and families can use the songs to help reinforce the behaviors at home.
Read More: How to Limit Screen Time
The important part about watching these shows is that you talk with your child as you watch together. If you help them process the information effectively, the impact on Kindergarten readiness can be great.
Practice Pre-Reading Skills
Wouldn’t it be nice if your child knew how to read by the time they started Kindergarten? Sure it would, but that isn’t always achievable. Fortunately, Kindergarten is a time for students to learn to read, and hopefully, by the end of the year, the whole class will be sounding out words independently. You can help your child to achieve this goal by teaching them pre-reading skills before they head off to Kindergarten.
What are pre-reading skills, you may ask? Kindergarten readiness pre-reading skills are the skills that a child must learn before they can read. This includes things like holding the book correctly, turning the pages the right way, and reading the words left to right. If a child enters Kindergarten with these skills already perfected, learning to read will be much easier. In fact, getreadytoread.org includes these skills on their Kindergarten Readiness Indicators Checklist.
So what can you do to make this happen? Practice these skills with your child every time you read together. When you pick up a book, explain how you hold it so you can see the pictures the right way. Have your kid flip the pages for you. Track the words on the page with your index finger as you read.
Kids must learn that the words written on the page are the same ones that are being said aloud as you read, so making these small adjustments to your reading time can make a big difference.
Read More: 5 Effective Beginning Reading Strategies for Toddlers
Count with Purpose
Another way that you can help your child work toward Kindergarten readiness is to model counting in a meaningful way. By that, I mean don’t just count out loud. Actually show your child what you are counting. When you count the apples on the counter with your kid, point to each apple as you say a number. When you count how many kittens are on the page in a picture book, point to each kitten as you go.
The reason it is important to point to each object as you count is that it helps your child develop one-to-one correspondence; a key skill for preparing Kindergarten readiness in your child. Counting isn’t arbitrary – the numbers represent how many of something there is. But children don’t automatically know that. So the more you practice this skill, the easier it will be for kids to understand when they get to school.
Focus on Everyday Skills
There is a lot to learn in Kindergarten. Every day, your child will come home with new knowledge or skills. That much learning can sometimes be overwhelming. For that reason, working on everyday skills, like tying shoelaces, buttoning up pants, and washing hands is a great way to develop Kindergarten readiness.
If your child doesn’t know how to do these things when they enter school, they will likely learn while they are there. But there are so many other things for them to learn, that already having mastered these skills can free up some brainpower for more academic learning.
Alternatively, if your child isn’t ready to tie their own shoes, maybe send them in a slip-on or velcro-fastening pair while you work on this skill at home. It isn’t that your kid can’t learn these skills while at school – it is likely that they can. But focusing on these skills outside of school can be a good idea to maximize their academic learning time with their teacher.
Prioritize Emotional Learning
Prioritizing emotional learning is arguably the most important thing you should be doing prior to your child starting Kindergarten. The transition to starting school is a big one, and there are sure to be a lot of feelings associated with the process. Talking about feelings with your child can be greatly beneficial to make sure that they are able to handle it emotionally.
A good place to start is to practice naming feelings. When reading a book or watching TV, talk about how the characters feel. Say things like, “Look at the girl’s face – how do you think she feels?” It is important not to attach judgment to the feelings, but to simply recognize that different feelings exist.
You can also practice naming your child’s feelings out loud. If your kid is angry, say something like, “It looks like you are angry,” as you are addressing it. If your child is excited, you can name that as well. You can also name your own feelings throughout the day. Modeling this for your kid will help them develop emotional intelligence that will serve them well as they begin Kindergarten.
Read More: The Importance of Emotional Intelligence and How to Foster it in Your Child
It may feel like getting your child ready for Kindergarten is an overwhelming, even impossible task. But with these easy changes to activities you likely already do, you can help prepare them to be successful learners. Start small. Your child doesn’t have to know all the Kindergarten readiness skills before they begin – that is what they will be learning while at school. But working toward Kindergarten readiness will serve your child well, and you can absolutely help them get there.
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