If you have a child inching closer to kindergarten, or even a baby who will be in the coming years, you may find the term “kindergarten readiness” both annoying and confusing. Isn’t kindergarten supposed to get kids ready for grade school? At least that’s what I thought.
But kindergarten is such a critical foundational year, that you want to do your best to prepare your child for success. A “successful” year of kindergarten is one that not only arms kids with the essentials for academics, but also builds their confidence and joy of learning. Because kindergarten success is so multifaceted, preparing for kindergarten is too. It’s not just about learning letters and numbers, but also about building social, personal-care skills. I know, it’s a lot.
- Letters and numbers - play games with your child that involve counting, read to them at least once a day and help them sound out letters and words. The goal is to help them consistently identify letters, count with numbers, and recognize their written name.
- Scissors and crayons - help your child practice using safety scissors, and work with them to strengthen their pincher grip when coloring.There are lots of free templates online to help kids practice both cutting and coloring paper.
This one surprises some parents, but kindergarten teachers stress the importance of personal readiness.
- Chores / responsibilities - kindergarten teachers often assign kids tasks to help them learn a sense of responsibility. You can start this at home by assigning light chores they do on a regular basis.
- Getting dressed - give your child more opportunities to dress themselves. In the classroom, they’ll need to take jackets and sweaters on and off, as well as bottoms in the bathroom.
- Bathroom - this is an area you may not hear about often, but is a big frustration for teachers. Kids need to be able to go #1 and #2 on their own, wipe themselves clean, flush, and then wash their hands unprompted. Not to mention pull their undies and pants back on without help.
Perhaps most important for kindergarten is social readiness. Your child will need to know how to interact with other kids calmly and kindly. They need to practice taking turns, listening to instructions, waiting when needed, and communicating their needs and thoughts. The big takeaway is that kids need to know how (or at least a few go-to techniques) to regulate their big emotions with some help from adults. This one’s tricky though, because kids often act up more with their parents than they would with teachers, nannies, or other adults.
The best way to get your child ready is to give them lots of exposure to other kids and adults so they can practice with and without your help. So, playdates, playgrounds, and other activities!