Special thanks to Kelly Wilson for this guest post:
Even though children are five years old before entering kindergarten, time passes in a flash. It seems like just last week I was changing my youngest child’s diapers, and now we’re getting him prepared to enter kindergarten in the fall.
For young children, school can be overwhelming – not only is it a new community with specific rules, but there are a variety of skills and activities for children to learn. Preparation for entering kindergarten will help your child have a positive experience.
Taking Care of Business
In order to share what your child can expect from the first days and weeks in kindergarten, it’s important to get the information you need as soon as possible. Participate in any kindergarten orientation activities at the school where your child will be attending – you’ll receive information regarding the school schedule, classroom teachers, the names of office staff, and required forms to fill out.
Some of these forms refer to your child’s health and ask for recent immunizations. If you haven’t already, this is a great time to make an appointment with your child’s pediatrician to get their required shots and a physical exam. In addition, this is a perfect time to take your child to the dentist.
“This is a pivotal time in a child’s life,” states Dr. Lance Heppler, a Dentist in Vancouver, WA. “They are constantly learning how they can help take care of themselves, and brushing their teeth is an essential skill.” You’ll also be able to get your child’s teeth examined and possibly x-rayed in order to spot potential problems before they start.
Build Academic Skills
Even though the classroom teacher and your child’s classmates will talk about how to have a healthy smile, there are many types of skills that you can practice with your child before kindergarten begins.
• Literacy – Talking, reading, listening and writing are all skills under the Literacy umbrella. Read picture books aloud with your child, talking about the pictures and what’s happening in the story. Have him/her draw a picture of the best part in the story, and have your child explain what they liked most. To practice writing, you can even have your child practice writing his/her name above or underneath the picture. Sharing books with your child and reading aloud every day for about 15 minutes ensures a positive, successful reading experience with your preschooler.
• Math – Important math concepts at this stage include counting to 100, writing numbers in order from 1 to 10, sorting groups (like classifying buttons by color), and identifying colors and shapes (circle, square, triangle, rectangle, rhombus). The great thing about these skills is that they can be practiced anywhere at any time. Have your child sort the laundry with you, counting each piece of clothing as they’re put into groups. Practice picking out colors and shapes while driving or grocery shopping!
• Fine Motor – These skills can be combined with literacy or math skills to help make practicing them more fun. Developing fine motor skills has to do with how well your child can use hand-eye coordination. Have your child use scissors to cut out shapes from paper, or create letters and numbers using play dough. Grab a set of refrigerator magnets to practice letter names and sounds, and encourage your child to manipulate them by moving them around.
Stick to a Routine
Children at this age tend to respond to patterns and routine. Combined with the anticipation of getting up early for school, this is a great reason to set a daily schedule for your child. Use pictures and tape them to a wall or door that show a pattern to the day, such as getting dressed, eating meals and snacks, going outside to play, rest time, and simple jobs or chores he or she can complete. Once the school routine has started, you’ll be happy about all this practice!
Kelly Wilson is a busy mom and freelance writer. Find out more about how to teach kids to take care of their teeth by visiting Dr. Lance Heppler, a Dentist in Vancouver, WA.