Whether you’re a #KinderMom newbie or veteran, here are 20 Kindergarten tips to establish a sparkling start to your child’s first year of school:
Teach your child to verbalize needs. Understanding our kids’ needs is intuitive as parents. However, expecting teachers to magically “know” this is beyond Superwoman stuff. Boost communication through reading, speaking, listening, and writing. Teach them to use statements like I feel _____, or I need _____.
Read for 15 minutes every day. Decades of educational research overwhelmingly support reading aloud to children. It (1) fosters language development, (2) instills a LOVE of reading, (3) shares knowledge, (4) builds literacy skills, and (5) improves brain development.
Promote phonological awareness. Phonological awareness is a precursor to phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Advance it through singing songs, reading poems, playing rhyming games, brainstorming words with a single beginning sound, and generating silly sentences with words that begin with the same sound.
Give your child responsibilities. Allow your child to do things on their own. Teach them how to clean up messes, dress themselves, as well as how to get and open their own snacks. This will serve them well in an environment where they will need to operate with a reasonable amount of independence.
Demonstrate how to deal with frustration. School is challenging. Heck, life is challenging! Sometimes your child will struggle, and that’s okay because frustration begets patience. Patience begets perseverance, and perseverance keeps us going when we want to give up. Teach your child how to handle frustration in a healthy, productive manner. In our home, we practice Daniel Tiger’s advice to, “Take a step back and ask for help.”
Consider routines. Your morning sets the tone for your day. Establish a sensible wake-up time, so your family can adequately prepare. Likewise, an effective evening schedule should ensure your child is getting sufficient amounts of sleep.
Foster kindness. Encourage your child to be kind in words and actions. Perform random acts of kindness for friends, family, and neighbors. Sprinkle it around like Funfetti!!!
Teach social skills. The best way to teach social skills is through modeling. Model how to share, take turns, use positive words, be patient, and listen without interrupting when playing games, talking at the dinner table, or being out in public.
Develop fine motor skills. Put away the tablet, and bring along paper and a pencil when going to a restaurant. Set up an art cart of glue, scissors, pens, pencils, and crayons for writing, coloring, cutting, and tracing. Encourage creating with Legos, blocks, and playdough.
Know name when speaking (and writing). Ensure your child knows his first AND last name orally. If your child shows interest, practice printing his or her first name with only the first letter capitalized.
Limit TV, computer, and video game time. Swap an episode of PAW Patrol for reading a book, writing a story or letter, creating art, singing silly songs, asking questions, walking outside, counting objects, building a fort, etc.
Create a place for learning at home. Emphasize the importance of literacy and learning by creating a special, stimulating area at home which encourages inquiry and exploration.
Calm the clutter. Get a head start on backpack clutter using the KAT strategy. Each week, have your child empty their backpack and decide what needs to be kept, archived, or tossed. This is a great way to reinforce #4!
Learn to follow two-step instructions. As your child gets older, they will be expected to follow more complicated directions, so learning to follow two-step instructions–like “Please get your shoes and then put them on”–is important.
Use good manners. Simply teaching your child to say “please” and “thank you” will empower them to show respect to teachers and peers.
Practice self-control. Habits play a role in self-control. To instill healthy habits, your child needs to be able to predict consequences of their behavior–good or bad. For this reason, parental consistency when doling out consequences is essential. Help your child help themselves!
Practice (but don’t push) letter/sound and number recognition. Look for opportunities to count objects (coins, rocks, etc.) and point out and say letters and sounds in your environment and in books.
Ask questions. Your child shouldn’t be the only person at home asking, “Why?” Your child will be asked this question for the next 13 years, so prepare them by asking open-ended questions requiring them to think critically.
Build self-esteem. We’ve already established school is hard. Your child will struggle academically, emotionally, and/or socially. Front-load positive self-esteem by praising your child often.