Going off to kindergarten is one of the first milestones of many for young children. Parents often worry about how best to prepare their youngsters for this first step in the educational process, but with a bit of foresight, most kids will be ready without a hitch on their first day!
The entire preparation process, however, does not begin a few months before school starts. On the contrary, it is a culmination of the many activities, playgroups and even toys in which your child has been participating and playing since they were babies. So rest assured, much of what today’s parents do with and for their little ones will prove helpful as they begin kindergarten.
1. Spotlight Necessary Life and Social Skills
Since Kindergarten is really the first foray into a professional education setting, your child will be expected to be somewhat self-sufficient with basic skills such as going to the bathroom and washing his or her own hands, so focus on their mastery of these capabilities. Be mindful of modeling saying please and thank you and listening without interrupting. Praising children for doing the same will prove valuable as they will enter kindergarten already trained in the art of good manners and polite interaction with others.
Fortunately for a large number of kiddies today, many parents decide either out of choice or necessity to enroll their offspring in early childhood classes and daycare. As a result, these wee ones’ journey of learning and discovery has already gotten off to a good start. By the time they are ready for the leap to kindergarten, their prior nursery school or pre-k experiences will do them well.
2. Make Basic Learning Building Blocks Fun
Would anyone argue with the idea that adding fun to learning makes it more enjoyable? Some would even go as far as to say that fun makes learning more effective. According to ParentingScience.com, “Playful behavior appears to have positive effects on the brain and on a child’s ability to learn. In fact, play may function as an important, if not crucial, a mode for learning.” It is no wonder that play and fun are such a huge part of kindergarten.
Parents can take a lesson from this and get kids ready for their “big” school year by engaging them in playful learning methods that enable them to acquire basic building blocks for reading writing and arithmetic. Singing the alphabet song will engrain the ABC’s and prep kids for reading. Reading engaging books to children regularly will help to expand their vocabulary.
Many experts also suggest that exposing toddlers and preschoolers to a variety of STEM toys will help them develop lateral thinking and problem-solving skills as well as cognitive function. By introducing this genre of playthings early, “children will experience the whole process of completing a project from start to finish” according to Parenting Healthy Babies, which is an excellent tool for beginning kindergarten.
3. Emotionally Prepare and Empower
Kids function best when they feel safe and know what to expect. If kindergarten is the first time your child is separating from mom and dad, allow your child to stay with other trusted adults for a few hours at a time prior to kindergarten. Ideally, taking your child to visit the new school and even the classroom will help make the transition easier for him/her.
Let them see the cafeteria, gym, playground, etc. If possible, and if at all possible, meet with their new kindergarten teacher prior. Kids also identify with other literary characters, so begin introducing books about starting kindergarten.
A few great books include Curious George Goes to School by M. Rey & H.A. Rey, Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by J. Slate and The Kissing Hand by A. Penn. Early childhood learning centers and child care near South Morang put a strong emphasis on this kind of readiness, making the leap to kindergarten seamless.
In the end, trust that your little one will fare well and don’t forget to bring some tissues for the big day, for mom and dad!