It’s July and time to start thinking about getting your child ready for kindergarten. With all of the different scenarios going on with as our preschools opened back up, parents may not have had those important end of year conference conversations with their pre school teachers or may be facing schooling for the very first time. Hopefully, this will help guide you in knowing how to support your during the remainder of the summer break.
Here’s a list of skills most kindergarten teachers would LOVE for children to have BEFORE they step foot in the classroom. However, if the decision is that you keep your child at home this year, this will be a great resource for you when teaching your child at home to prep for next year. I’ve also included an extra section in case there is a chance your district has any issues and need COVID precautions as well!
What Does My Child Need to Know Before Kindergarten?
Many parents are surprised at how different kindergarten is from when they went to school. They cannot believe how much kindergartners learn and are expected to do in their first school year. I have so many conversations with parents in our first conference about how sorry they are that they didn’t work with their child BEFORE they came to kindergarten, thinking it was just an extension of preschool. Getting your child ready for kindergarten will save so much stress later in the school year.
Preschool parents and teachers know how important the social and emotional learning, as well as academic introduction, is for young children. Children that have background in a wide variety of experiences find much quicker success in their kindergarten year than those that have never experienced a school situation before. Knowing colors, shapes, some letters & sounds, numbers, how to write their own name are just some of the skills that are important at this level.
Families need to give children learning experiences at home.
If your child didn’t go to preschool, it’s important that families give those learning experiences to their children AT HOME. There are lots of easy things families can do to help young children get ready for kindergarten. Teachers do not consider this age children toddlers, so they will not be overly babied in kindergarten. It is important for them to learn to become independent – doing many things BY THEMSELF. Five-year-olds are developmentally ready to take on independence. Parents need to make sure they are assisting with this natural progression and not overly babying their child at this stage.
Use this list to see how well your child is moving in the direction of being ready for their big kindergarten year.
Fine Motor Experience
Fine Motor Experience is muscle building in a child’s hands that allow them to use the tools of school. These muscles allow them to do many things on their own. Most of these skills will be worked on throughout kindergarten. Don’t wait until your child hits the door to start helping them learn these skills. The starred ones are very important for your child to have MASTERED.
- Possibly needed this year: Wear and keep up with a mask in public*
- Use the restroom independently*
- Wear clothing that can be buttoned or zipped independently*
- Zip coats and jackets independently*
- Tie Shoes
- Practice writing with pencils, pens, and crayons
- Practice cutting with child scissors
- Regularly build with blocks, work puzzles, play with playdough and other small manipulative activities
Social Skill experience will determine how easily your child adapts to a learning environment filled with lots of other children. Many kindergarten classrooms have up to 27 children in them. A parent cannot expect a teacher to create a successful learning environment until children know how to work in productive ways. They must be able to work without disturbing the learning of others.
- Sit and listen or work on a task for at least 10-15 minutes at a time*
- Follow simple one-step instructions*
- Follow simple two-step directions
- Move around a room without bothering others
- Show self control in play
- Respond well to redirection by an adult
- Express feelings appropriately
- Try to find solutions to problems
- Manage transitions without issue
- Try new tasks without giving up easily
- Express own experiences clearly
- Show interest in classroom activities
- Speak with others in group discussions
- Develop friendships with other children
- Help with basic clean up tasks
Academic skills WILL be taught in kindergarten, but children need BACKGROUND and language experience to build their learning. If children are not exposed they will be set up for difficulties in their understanding of new concepts.
- Recite the alphabet independently*
- Name most capital and lower case letters
- Write their first name*
- Recognize their name in print*
- Count to 10 or higher
- Group and count up to 10 objects
- Match objects that relate to each other
- Know address and phone number
- Recognize and name shapes
- Recognize and name colors
- Repeat patterns
Vocabulary is the amount of words your child knows, uses, and understands. Successful students know A LOT of them. Many parents have been talking to their child since they were in the womb. Children with large vocabularies have parents that talk to them, explain the world to them, ask questions and engage with them through life and by reading books. They also go places with their parents and witness the world: parks, zoos, museums, restaurants, shopping trips, downtown city, country farms, vacations.
Children without large vocabularies are those that are not engaged in conversation, are placed in front of televisions and screens for long amounts of time. They are not invited into family conversation regularly and may get corrected way too often when they try to interact.
Help increase your child’s vocabulary by teaching them LOTS and LOTS of WORDS! Be supportive and ask your child lots of questions to encourage their practice in speaking and using words and explaining what new words mean. Do this in your child’s HOME LANGUAGE. It is not necessary to be done only in English! The learning of oral language happens in any language!
- name of things in the house, yard, neighborhood, park, city, town
- say the names basic shapes
- name animals
- group animals by farm, pets, zoo, ocean, etc.
- group objects by kitchen, bathroom, bedroom
- name things in books
- know difference between letters and numbers
- know how things are the same and different
- understand and use direction words: over, under, in front of, behind, beside, between
Just Good Manners
- Follow bus, school & classroom safety rules after first few weeks of school
- Learn to sit still on a bus or in your car AND keep hands to self*
- Sit at the lunch or dinner table without without a device or getting up for 20 minutes AND keep hands to self*
- Open own food that is brought to lunch, independently*
- Use good manner words: please, thank you
- Use nice words and actions- never name call, use potty words or hurt others’ feelings on purpose
- Say “I’m sorry” if you make a mistake and mean it
- Ask before using someone else’s belongings
- Play games and learn how to win without bragging and lose without crying – See my post here on great games for young children!
Germ Free Manners in Germ Season or During Covid Climate
- wear and keep up with a face mask if needed
- wash hands independently
- keep hands out of eyes, nose, mouth and other body parts
- don’t put anything in mouth or share food
- sneeze into arm and when using a tissue & throw it away immediately
- follow and learn the directions for being safe at school
All children are different and each has their strengths and difficulties as they grow and learn. Your child may not have everything down pat before the first day but, that’s okay! Kindergarten teachers are built for helping children learn. Be sure to think about how to help your child be as ready as possible for kindergarten.
Use this list to ensure your child has some level of understanding for most of these skills and the kindergarten year will be a smooth and joyful experience!