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For years now, your child has been insisting that he or she is a “big kid” and no longer needs your help doing just about anything. But kindergarten is approaching and he or she is about to enter the big leagues. Kindergarten curriculum expectations do not include brain surgery – so you are in luck. But they do include learning letters, numbers, manners, and basically how to be a kind human. All things that will set your little one up for success in the future.
Kindergarten Curriculum Tool #1: Learn Your Letters
Most kids know the “ABC” song long before kindergarten is a blip on the education radar. The alphabet song positions children to learn the 26 letters in the English language which is a great start. The next step that prepares kids for the kindergarten curriculum is learning the three identifiers for each letter:
- Visually identify each letter
- Identify the distinct letter sounds
- Write the letter in upper and/or lowercase (tangible identifier)
Useful activities for learning letters:
- Letter scavenger hunt. Pick a letter. Have your child write that letter on multiple post-it notes. Then have him or her walk around the house placing the post-its on anything that starts with the letter of choice.
- Use yarn. Cut out a long piece of yarn and hand to your child. Have him or her use it to shape each letter. Great activity if you have a child who is a tactile learner.
- Look around you. Next time you are on a walk or spending quality time with your child, point to street signs or building names and ask then to identify the letters and give you letter sounds.
- Play with magnets. If you can get your hands on an alphabet of magnets, have your child arrange in ABC order. Maybe even tackle letter sounds as you go!
- Watch a video. Normally, promoting screen time is not ideal – but Leap Frog has some cute, short videos that help both visual and sound recognition of letters. Netflix now carries “Letter Factory” which is an incredible resource.
Kindergarten Curriculum Tool #2: Know Your Numbers
Most kids learn to count from 1 to 3 pretty darn fast. Some even know that if they stop what they were asked to stop before two-and-three-quarters, they are golden. But in all seriousness, knowing how to count from 1 to 10 is great and knowing how to count from 1 to 20 is phenomenal in mastering the kindergarten curriculum. Other things to help your child with prior to entering grade school is identifying and writing number as well as counting objects.
Useful activities for learning numbers:
- Count the animals. Have your child line up his or her toys and count the animals waiting in line.
- Play with dice. Roll the dice and ask your child to count the dots on the top side. Use that number as a dessert motivator: you can have 5 M&Ms. Or to get in some exercise: do 3 jumping jacks.
- Look around. Similar to working with letters, numbers can be as easily found on street signs or street addresses. Have your child find the numbers 1 through 10 and cross them out on a list as you go.
- Teach them cards. Whether war or go fish is your poison, card games teach kids how to identify numbers and where those numbers fall when counting.
- Play the greater than/less than game. When you are making a meal or folding laundry, ask your child to count the food or clothing in each pile to figure out which has more and which has less.
Kindergarten Curriculum Tool #3: Self Sufficiency
From the time a child transitions from baby to toddler, the “Me do it!” attitude somehow always dominates. As tempting as it is for parents to slap some quick on it and take ownership of the activity, encourage yourself to slow down and allow your kiddo to do things for him or herself. A kindergarten teacher will have more time to teach the kindergarten curriculum if not stuck zipping 20+ jackets every time the class goes outside for recess. Other things to work on prior to school starting:
- Securing shoes. Velcro is clutch for newbie students. Some kids know how to tie shoes prior to starting school – but even this can take a while which takes time away from the classroom.
- Using the bathroom alone. By the time a child enters grade school, he or she needs to be able to wipe and pull up bottoms by oneself. Zipping and buttoning pants/shorts takes time and practice and can easily be learned at home. If your child is required to wear a uniform belt, practice securing and unsecuring at home to avoid accidents. Also, if you have a boy, practice moving his shirt out of the way when peeing. Speaking from a laundry of experience.
- Opening drink and food packets. While most schools have lunch aids and parent volunteers, teaching to open drinks and baggies/food packets will help the snack and lunch process move quicker and smoother.
- Writing their name. While this doesn’t necessarily fall into the self sufficiency bucket, writing ones name is part of every kindergarten curriculum. Start with the first name and once mastered, move to the last.
Kindergarten Curriculum Tool #4: Learn Manners and Show Respect
What parent doesn’t melt at hearing their child use manners when addressing adults? The best way to drill the “please” and “thank you” responses into a child is by teaching them young. By practicing manners at home, manners will become second nature once the child is in school. Additionally, listening and responding is a learned skill that can be honed and practiced while at home and before starting kindergarten.
Separate from showing respect for adults, acting appropriately with peers is an important piece of the kindergarten curriculum. Preschool does a great job of teaching kids how to share and how to care and kindergarten simply takes this lesson to the next level. Something else you can do as a parent to prepare for successful peer interactions is using meal times to teach your child how to eat with others making lunchroom etiquette a snap.
Whether this is a sad day or a joyful day, emotions run the gamut sending a child off to grade school. There is something about putting your baby to bed as a preschooler and having him or her wake up a kindergarten that adds a layer of sentimentality. And sharpens the picture of your child walking across the high school graduation platform…cue the waterworks! Regardless of your feelings around starting kindergarten, school is nearly here. Your kiddo (and you) are gonna rock it, momma!
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out this article on We Sent Our Daughter to Kindergarten Early. And Now We’re Holding Her Back.
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