Photo Source: WoodleyWonderWorks
:: The following is written by LifeasMOM contributor, JessieLeigh. Whether your child will be heading off to school in one week or one year, I think you will find JessieLeigh’s suggestions to be super helpful.
There are several things that you, the mom, can do to help prepare your child for entering kindergarten. And you know what? The most important ones have NOTHING to do with ABC’s, letter-writing, or being able to count to 652… in Spanish. Arm your little one with these five basic skills to help give her a good, strong start:
1. Help your child learn to dress/undress himself.
It may be second-nature to help your child on and off with her coat every day. It probably only takes a minute. But multiply that minute times the fifteen to twenty children who will likely be in class, and you can see what a time-waster that can become. Children should be able to handle basic self-care skills on their own.
2. Practice routines.
Having a basic routine at home will make it less difficult for your child to adjust to the routine at school. Most children do well when they know what to expect. Don’t be afraid to “mix things up” occasionally, though… flexibility is an important trait to have too!
3. Create “turn-taking” opportunities throughout your day.
Children with siblings often have some practice with this already, but whatever your family situation, you should play games and set up activities that require turn taking. From board games to sharing your favorite part of the day at dinner, learning to take turns is an easy skill to practice that is critical to success at school.
4. Ensure that your child recognizes her printed name.
She doesn’t need to be able to spell it or write it necessarily (though those are fine skills to have), but she should be able to point it out if it’s printed on a paper. I think some parents get hung up on having a child who “knew all her letters at 15 months!” and, well, that’s great. It’s just not all that useful in and of itself. Your child’s name will be popping up all over the classroom… not only will recognizing her name help her figure out where to hang her coat, it will give her confidence and reassure her that she “belongs.”
5. Encourage effective communication.
It’s likely that, after about five years now, you can read your child’s emotions with great accuracy. Your child’s teacher doesn’t have all of your history. Helping your child learn to clearly express what he’s feeling will help him have happier, more successful days. Provide descriptive words (sad, angry, excited, hurt, shy, etc.) and demonstrate the expressions that go along with that emotion… e.g. “How is Mommy feeling?” while lowering your brows and tightening your lips.
You’re helping him pin down “angry” or “mad”. Your goal is to help him be able to clearly communicate what he may be feeling and also recognize how those around him might be feeling.
There are dozens of other skills that can only help your child as he or she sets off for school, but I think the above are some of the most valuable.
What steps did you take or are you planning to take to prepare your child to head off to public kindergarten?
– JessieLeigh is the mother of a former 24-week micropreemie and two full-term blessings as well. She is a determined advocate for the tiniest of babies, including the unborn, and a firm believer in faith and miracles. She shares about raising such a precious, tiny baby over at Parenting the Tiniest of Miracles. She is also a regular contributor to LifeasMOM.