10 Steps Parents Need to Take to Prepare Preschoolers for Kindergarten Success
One consistent piece of advice Kindergarten teachers give to parents of preschoolers is the importance of introducing kids to a school setting, when possible, to acclimate kids to the social and formal setting of a classroom. As one retired kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Miller noted, “Children who have not been to preschool or who have not been taught preschool basics, such as writing, cutting, letters, and following directions, at home, often begin the school year, academically and socially, behind their peers.”
Many parents ask what they should be doing to prepare their child for school. First, it is important to note that it is the responsibility of parents to prepare their child for school even if the child is attending preschool classes.
In order for children to be prepared for Kindergarten, children should be capable of the following skills.
Strong Communication Skills
Children need to be able to communicate their needs, verbally, in class and also follow the process in order to communicate, such as raising a hand and waiting to be called on. Children will also have to share in small groups.
Ability to Listen
Children will need to be able to be quiet and listen to the teacher throughout most of the day. If children have not learned to sit still and listen to directions, the child will have an adjustment period.
From the time children are very young, they learn to follow basic directions, but once they reach their preschool years, they will need to be able to listen to several step directions and then follow the steps. This is a skill that is easily practiced at home and during play. Following directions will allow children to finish their work, learn the proper steps to doing an activity and how to order things.
Work with Peers
Most Kindergarten classes have time during the day when children will work in small groups or at stations. As an example, there may be several reading groups in the class and small groups of children may work at the computer station, or on a science activity together. Kids will need to be able to take turns, speak to other children, and be patient.
Throughout the day, kids will need to work independently to get specific work done. This will require children to listen, follow directions, and ask questions if they are not sure how to proceed. They need to be able to write, practice tracing, cut/paste, or even use the computer on their own.
Fine-Motor Skills (pencil grip, cutting skills, picking up small items)
Children will begin using pencils in Kindergarten and will need to be able to cut with scissors, pick up small objects for counting, and begin writing every day in class. The more practice a child has had cutting, holding a pencil, marker, or crayon, drawing, and picking up small objects, prior to beginning Kindergarten, the stronger his/her fine-motor skills will be for the the increase in writing and fine-motor tasks they will be asked to do each day.
Although counting to 10 or 20 is not required to enter Kindergarten, knowing how to do some basic counting and manipulating of number objects will set a child up to begin the school year more prepared. A child does not have to know a lot, but some very basic math concepts is a good starting place.
Basic Number and Letter Recognition
Children should be able to recognize all or most of their letters and numbers and write their name. Those children that know their letters and numbers when they begin Kindergarten will be able to move onto reading much sooner than children that begin the year with no letter or number recognition. If a child can read prior to kindergarten then he/she will be in a position to advance beyond many other kindergartners.
Basic Life Skills (put on and take off jacket/backpack, zip jacket, put on gloves, hang up items)
Children who go to Kindergarten being able to put away and take on and off their jackets, hats, gloves, and backpacks will be more independent. Also, if the majority of the class is able to do these basic things, the teacher will have to spend less time on getting kids started in the morning and ready to leave in the afternoon and be able to spend more time on valuable teaching opportunities.
Basic Computer Skills
Today, most classrooms have a handful of computers available for students to use. Children are beginning to use computers even as toddlers, so children going to Kindergarten with basic mouse skills already have a beneficial skill that will set them up for school success.
One comment I have heard, over and over again, from parents whose children attend strong academic preschools is, “I pay the preschool to teach my child.” The concern here is to assume that because a child attends preschool he/she does not need additional help and guidance at home. Preschool can help socialize children, teach them to follow directions, work with other children, and follow the routine of a school day, but it is in the home that children are encouraged to reach, learn, be creative and follow directions on a daily basis. Parents need to understand just how important their role is in preparing their children for school and learning success. It is the foundation parents lay down in the early years that will help shape the type of learner and student the child will become.
In an effort to help parents and preschools to prepare preschoolers for kindergarten, the National Kindergarten Readiness Initiative was developed to provide the tools and list the recommended skills and knowledge preschoolers should be introduced to prior to kindergarten. You can learn more at NationalKindergartenReadiness.com
by Kristin Fitch at www.NationalKindergartenReadiness.com
Kristin Fitch is co-founder and editor of ZiggityZoom.com and a network of family-oriented websites, including CuriousBaby.com, Mommie911.com and HamptonRoadsParents.com. Kristin’s first inspirational parenting book, which she co-authored with Sharon Pierce McCullough, Parenting without a Paddle: Navigating the Waters of Parenthood has just been published.