How to Prepare Your Little One for Kindergarten
Aug 08, 2016
On the first day of kindergarten there will probably be a lot of tears and hugs, with several “I’ll miss you” sprinkled in for extra measure. And we don’t mean from the kids.
Of course the first day of school is always a big deal, but the first day of kindergarten is historic. It’s the first day your child will be out in the world “alone”, so your local Rio Grande Valley Sylvan Learning Center wants to help you make sure your baby is ready to fly.
Kindergarten is just as important a grade level as any other, and because of this, there are certain skills that you’ll want your little one to have a grasp on before they head out the door. Just remember that the idea isn’t to cram for all these skills in one week, but rather to slowly begin introducing them once your child seems ready to learn them.
1. Name Writing
Practice really does make perfect. If your child has already attended preschool or daycare years prior to kinder, then they should have already had some practice, and hopefully mastered, writing down the few letters of their name.
If they haven’t then that’s ok.
Having a chalkboard or dry erase board and marker works really well for this exercise. Start by writing their name down for them in big, easy to copy, print. Have them practice randomly throughout the day. Keep in mind that the writing doesn’t have to be perfect - they are still learning hand-eye coordination - but it should be legible.
Once they’ve mastered their own name, have them practice writing other family member names, which will help to teach them additional letters. If your child as to write down their name on the first day of class, they’ll have an awesome confidence boost knowing they can do it!
2. Letters and Their Sounds
Yes, your child will be learning the letters and their sounds throughout kindergarten, but it doesn’t hurt to give them a little head start.
What’s more important between the two skills is to make sure your kiddo is able identify the uppercase and lowercase versions of letters. By helping them with this piece of the puzzle, they’ll be able to focus more on the sounds they make, which tends to be the tricky part.
Use note cards to create your own set of alphabet cards and let the fun begin. For instance:
Ultimately, by helping them to learn their letters, you’ll also be advancing their reading skills.
- You can place the cards alongside objects that begin with that letter (i.e. place the “A” card alongside an apple).
- You can play memory matching games by turning them upside down and having your child match uppercase and lowercase letters.
- You can shuffle the cards, have your child grab one, and search for items that begin with that letter à la treasure hunt (i.e. ball for B card).
3. Sight Words
It’s a Sylvan best practice to always be a step ahead when it comes to school. This means knowing some sight words before the school year starts (click here for a brief list).
Because students will be learning the fundamentals of reading in kindergarten, knowing sight words - simple words that are best learned by memorization because of their frequency - will help with the process. Plus, just like being able to write their names, it can be a great confidence booster to our little ones when they already know how to read words that will pop-up in class.
Sure, index cards can do the job, but by making learning fun, those words will stick in those little brains quicker.
Try these activities for some entertaining sight word learning.
- Wordo - Just like bingo, but using sight words instead of numbers.
- Word Searches - Create (or Google search) word searches using sight words.
- Go Fish - Go Fish cards can be made with index cards.
- Letter Magnets - Purchase these at the store and quiz your little Einstein at home.
Helping your child to develop number sense before kindergarten is the perfect way to expose them to general math concepts and it’s a lot easier than you think. Nearly every activity that you do can involve some form of counting, adding, and subtracting.
Math can be a difficult subject for many students, so by preparing them early on, they’ll be able to succeed without much trouble.
- If you go for walks around the neighborhood, then help them count the number of steps you take. Of course depending on how much they know, you can practice 1-10 until those are mastered, or you can go big and count up to 100.
- Going to the grocery store is a great opportunity for adding and subtracting. Have them count out the number of fruits you pick (i.e. 5 apples). Challenge them by asking to put one back and then to find out how many are left.
- Go through their piggy bank with them and help your child to learn the different coins and their value.
- Have them count their toys as they play.
- Have them write down numbers 0-9 and let them be creative by writing them down in as many different “styles” as possible.
5. Read, Read, and Read More
Reading is going to be fundamental in all subjects and there’s no such thing as too much reading. Just like math, the world around you is full of letters and words to read.
Of course, children are going to mimic their parents, which means mommy and daddy need to show some honest interest in reading as well.
Read suitable news articles to your children. Help them to read cereal boxes at breakfast. As you drive along read street signs and billboards.
Show the kiddos that reading can be an enjoyable activity and not a punishment or something that’s only done for homework.
Get your future kindergartner excited about reading and watch how the world will begin to open up. Once they’ve learned to read they’ll be able to learn anything they want.
Beyond these scholastic related skills, also think about helping your child prepare for kindergarten by:
- Teaching them to tie their shoes, zip up coats, and button their blue jeans and shirts.
- Helping them memorize their full names, phone numbers, and home addresses.
- Talking about stranger safety.
Giving them some space prior to school starting. You don’t want kindergarten to be day after day of crying.In fact, think about sending your child to one of Sylvan’s great summer camps, like Early Reading Edge (Pre-K) to help get them ready for the big day.