How do you know if your child is ready to handle the rigors of the elementary school world? While I’m not a teacher, I am a mother of four children (the youngest of whom will be entering kindergarten in the fall) and I’ve learned a few things along the way. One of the many lessons I’ve learned (and I admit this was at the expense of my older kids) is how to help children prepare for kindergarten. It might surprise you to learn that not all my tips are academic – sometimes good old-fashioned life skills are what will help your kiddo most when he’s away from you during the day. Peruse this checklist of items to see what you can be working on with your little one before the first day of the school year.
- Tie Shoes – Alright, I have to admit right off the bat that my rising kindergartner cannot tie his own shoes. But thanks to the wonderful invention of Velcro I can buy myself another year (OK, who am I kidding – two years)!
- Recognize Letters – When we started kindergarten, part of what our parents expected us to be taught was our letters. These days (whether you think it’s for better or worse) kindergarten is a bit more fast paced. Your kiddo will feel more on top of things if she can already recognize her letters beforehand.
- Button Pants – If you’re a parent you probably don’t even realize that you still help your child button his pants. It’s just part of the routine: find the car keys, grab the briefcase, button little Billy’s pants, get in the car and roll. But trust me, your child’s teacher doesn’t have the time or patience to button twenty pairs of pants a day! Do her a favor and teach your kiddo this skill beforehand.
- Write Name – At the end of each school day you will find a wad of papers stuffed in the bottom of your child’s backpack. He will be expected to write his name (albeit not perfectly) on every one of those take home papers. Have your kiddo practice writing his name before sending him to kindergarten.
- Open Ketchup Packets – Again, although your kid’s teacher is probably the model of placidity, she will not be feeling very patient after the twelfth kid asks her to open his ketchup packet. Take the family out to McDonald’s and add a lesson in opening ketchup packets to your order.
- Recognize Numbers – Can your little one count to twenty and recognize the numbers 1-10? If not, brush up a bit on her number game before school begins.
- Recognize Colors – Most children learn their colors along the way as they navigate through life. Your little one most likely has already picked up this skill. If not, get out a box of basic Crayola’s and review red, orange, blue, yellow, green, purple, black, brown, and white. Recognition of indigo not required!
- Know Shapes – A knowledge of the basic shapes will be helpful to your little one as she begins kindergarten. No need to get out the geometry book and master octagons and hexagons. A simple review of circles, squares, and rectangles will suffice!
- Hold Scissors – If you’ve ever witnessed a child using scissors for the first time you know how incredibly awkward it looks. Using scissors properly takes a lot of practice. Find some scrap paper and blunt scissors and let your kiddo cut until his heart is content!
- Social Give and Take – No one expects kindergarteners to navigate social situations perfectly. However, a basic knowledge of sharing, compromising, and speaking kindly will go a long way in helping your kid be successful in kindergarten.
Oh yeah! Another important skill I’ve learned in my career as a mom of students: don’t sweat it! If your kiddo is a bit behind in some area, he will most likely catch up. So relax and enjoy the ride! They are only little for a short time. Take it from me, before you know it you will be handing them the car keys and telling them to be careful!