August is “Get Ready for Kindergarten” month for the incoming Class of 2023. Are your kids and grandkids ready?
What price would you pay to ensure that your child has a successful school experience? In China, kindergarten costs more than college. In Beijing, sending a child to kindergarten costs as much as $660 a month, compared with $102 a month for the country’s top college because there are too many kids and too few kindergartens. Let’s hear it for the good ol’ U.S.A. Budgets are tight and programs are being axed left and right, but at least we have great schools to make to help prepare our grandchildren for the future.
But let’s not leave it all up to the schools. Parents (and grandparents) have to take their fair share of responsibility in the education of their kids, by gently guiding, supporting, and reviewing and echoing lessons learned at school. Be an advocate for your own kids. Starting at home.
In order to do well in school, it helps for young children to have some important skills that help prepare them for kindergarten before entering kindergarten, as outlined in Part 1: Readiness Skills Checklist of this series.
There are many things you can be doing at home to help prepare your child for kindergarten.
1. Read. Read. Read. Reading to your child for 10-15 minutes every day is one of the best and most rewarding experiences – for all concerned. It’s not only a great time for bonding, but makes for great conversations, which improve listening and language skills.
2. Play memory games. Anything from “I’m going to Grandma’s house and I’m taking…” where you take turns adding items, each time including all the previously mentioned items. Another good memory game is “Concentration”, played by using a deck of any cards (matching pairs only). Cards are arranged in rows on a flat surface, face down. Take turns selecting any two cards and exposing them. The object is to recall where cards are in the rows and to match pairs.
3. Shape up. Looking for shapes and patterns in your environment. There are shapes all around you. Go on walks and try to find circles, rectangles, triangles, etc. Younger children should focus on one shape per outing. Windows are rectangles; sewer covers are circles; and so on. Couch this in a game of “Eye Spy” something round/square/whatever, and your kids will want to play the game all the time. Tracing shapes is good practice as well. Trace coins, business cards, whatever you can find. Then have the kids create a picture around the shapes.
4. Letter perfect. Much like shapes, identifying letters in your environment are an easy way to review the alphabet. Letters appear on signs, magazines, mail, cereal boxes, newspapers, on the television, everywhere, if only you pay attention. Make it fun.
5. Count your blessings. Count your eyes. Count your fingers and toes. Count the number of cars, dolls, toys they have. Count the buttons on their clothes. Just count and practice counting together. Teach your child his/her phone number, point out the numbers of your address. Ask questions like “which is more? do you have more cars or more crayons?“
6. Rhyme time. Singing songs is a great way to identify rhyming words. Play rhyming games. Make up your own rhymes, and give clues. “I’m thinking of a word that rhymes with hat, that has four legs and says meow.”
7. Make tools easily accessible. Keep crayons, markers and paper in a place the kids can go to create, draw, write at will. It’s amazing how much they enjoy their independence without having to ask permission or for the tools.
8. Once kids have created a visual, ask them what they’ve made. Ask questions and guide them into storytelling and using their imaginations.
9. Sort things out. Help kids learn to sort, match, compare, talking about colors, textures, and sizes. Got a button box? This is a great little tool and kids love to count them, sort them by color, size, etc. Buttons also make great creative projects!
10. Keep your kids engaged and focused on one task at a time. Kids often like to go from one thing to another without completing a task. Help them finish projects and clean up before allowing them to run off to watch TV or play with something else.
Most of all, enjoy spending time with them. They grow up so quickly!
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