Your beautiful 4, soon to be 5 year old, is playing, playing, playing. Ignoring you, inviting you, and talking to themselves, asking a thousand questions. And then it hits you…in 6 months they will be in kindergarten! Are they ready? Are you ready? Here are some tips to help YOU prepare (spoiler alert: your child is already ready).
- READ!!!!!!!!!! I cannot emphasize this enough! Reading is language, recognizing that print on paper means something! Learning letters means learning what letters sound like, means your child learns to put the sounds together with each individual letter they see. It’s not about flash cards (which are wonderful tools and please use them) but it’s about READING with them! Read Math books, Science books, fun books (and make every voice silly). Your children will learn because you gave them time. Talk to them about what they see, how a story makes them feel, how it builds a connection. Just the simple act of reading to your child help them learn concepts of print…and helps you feel a part of the process.
- Learn and study (Yes, I mean you)…all children learn at a different pace. Some learn quickly, some learn more slowly. Some have to touch everything, some need a quiet corner at all times. Some simply love to color all day long or need to bounce constantly! BUT THEY ALL STILL LEARN! It is up to you to learn your child’s learning style. You are the one that will be able to tell the teacher what your child’s learning style is, what their personality is, what they just can’t handle. A quiet child doesn’t mean “distant and withdrawn”. A loud child, who can’t sit in his seat doesn’t mean “obnoxious and anxious”. Kids learn differently. Remember: you are the expert on your child. Be proactive and tell your child’s teacher who they are and what to expect.
- Research schools and ask about the teachers. I have never known a school to have only 1 teacher per age group. Even if you feel that your child has only one option for school, talk to the available teachers! You are not putting anyone out by deciding who is best fitted to meet your child’s needs. Trust me, we teach early childhood education because we LOVE it, not because we have to. We WANT to talk to you and WANT you to talk to us! This is a team effort! Communicate your needs and your desires for your children!
- Play. Kids’ brains NEED play! Build with legos. Create with playdough. Paint. Go outside!!!!! Kids need to move. They need unstructured time. Think back to when you were in elementary school. Are not some of your most favorite memories playing?! When it was snowing and that’s all you lived for? In your memories, you played outside for hours…and you never remember being cold. When it was too cold or dark to go out, you played inside. Sure you shoved pillows up your shirts and ran across the room into each other. Or you sat playing with your mom’s hair pretending you were cutting it. It was probably the best massage she ever had. Go back to being that kid…your kids need it, and you need it, too.
- Remember that you will be your child’s forever teacher. Their teachers will change. You were their first. You will be their always. Teach them to be kind. Teach them to have courage. Enjoy the moments they beg to sit on your lap, give you a hug, say “I love you”, or ask you to read them a story. Be their forever teacher.
Your kids are already ready for kindergarten. All you need to do is encourage them, play with them, love them. We are in a position where we feel forced to make our kids grow up before they are ready. This is the ONE time in their life they get to be a kid. So how do you help prepare your child for Kindergarten? Keep doing what you’re doing: play with your kids, love your kids, and keep being the cushion they’ll need to fall back on as they continue to grow!