How to prepare your child or preschooler for kindergarten

How to prepare your child or preschooler for kindergarten

As a parent, of course, you want to cherish the cuddles, snuggles and irresistibly cute moments with your little one. And in the blink of an eye, when the days of parenting are as long as they are short, your child has all of sudden grown into a walking, talking and more-than-you-realize capable little kid. 

And with this big little kid comes a big little curious being who wants to explore the 360° glance of the world all at once…and why not? This is by design in child development. It is the time when their brains crave new experiences and should be filled with as many positive learning opportunities as possible. 

In the midst of entering preschool and preparing for the kindergarten years, it’s no surprise that every parent wants their child to excel in the various aspects of early childhood education - be it academics, social skills or emotional intelligence. 

We at My Starry Chart want to help parents take the guesswork out of preparing their children for kindergarten. Not only have we done this a few times with our children, but we’ve also researched and worked with child health experts to develop an easy-to-use Kindergarten Readiness Checklist. Download yours today by going here and have peace of mind, knowing your little one is kinder ready.

What Is Kindergarten Readiness and Why Is It Important?

Kindergarten readiness is associated with interactive concepts that help children develop in different domains and prepare them to adapt to a new environment – school. This preparedness helps kids become more proficient in early academics and more importantly social skills during their first experiences at school. 

Kindergarten readiness focuses on a child's social and academic development, whether it be junior or senior kindergarten. The skills your child grasps during these tender years of development lead to:

  • Social and emotional development
  • Motor and sensory development
  • Academic skills
  • Confidence building and independence 

According to research from the Child Development Institute, most of a child’s brain development happens during ages 3-5. This is the ideal time for planting seeds of wisdom that will yield many benefits in the future, including a high resilience tolerance. The aim is to strengthen their cognitive, tactile and emotional intelligence, which will help prepare them for life’s challenges. Preparing your child for Kindergarten does not have to be complicated, it is as simple as involving them in daily household responsibilities and learning the tools needed to develop self-control and independence. 

Challenges Kids Face

Before your child takes their first step in their Kindergarten classroom, it's normal for them to feel overwhelmed. That first day of school will always be challenging for any kid and it’s important as parents to acknowledge their feelings and empathize with them.

Your child may feel anxious because:

  • It's their first experience with a full day of school
  • Separation anxiety from parents or primary caregivers
  • Apprehensive about making friends
  • Activity transition 
  • Lack of attention and focus

It’s imperative not to expect your child to master kinder readiness skills in one day, or even one week; give them time to practice and absorb the learnings. Ideally, parents should give their child space to let them figure out their own ways to tackle a problem, which can further build their confidence and independence. And your job? Be their cheerleader, their support system, always. 

Basic Kindergarten Preparation

There are specific skills your child needs to practice before heading to Kindergarten. This step is crucial for your little ones to blossom in a new environment with other kids, who have likely come prepared. 

The skills are not necessarily mastered, but having a baseline will help your child feel more comfortable with the expectations that come with entering kindergarten. And one of the best ways to teach is to make your lessons fun and playful - because after all, they’re kids and kids thrive with positive discipline.

You should actively engage with your child and teach them some of the basics skills for kindergarten preparedness. Try to make it more natural and fun, so both you and them enjoy the learning process. You are your kid's first teacher; they are always learning from you and at this stage, are eager to please you and connect with you. For our free comprehensive checklist for Kindergarten Readiness, go here. You will know when your child is ready for kindergarten when they have a basic understanding in key areas of early learning, some of which include: 

Reading & Language Comprehension

Your child should: 

  • Know the letters of their first name
  • Know their name in print
  • Be able to draw simple pictures 
  • Know about colours and identify them
  • Be familiar with the alphabet
  • Begin to recognize rhyming words (ex- cat and mat)
  • Sing along with a nursery rhyme
  • Identify familiar signs and words
  • Be curious and ask about things they don't understand
  • Speak clearly, listen, and join in a conversation
  • Follow 2-3 steps directions
  • Show interest in reading
  • Hold pencils and books correctly
  • Enjoy listening to stories
  • Express their feelings, needs, and wants.

Math Skills

  • Count to 10
  • Can identify 1-10 in writing
  • Should be able to repeat patterns
  • Can match similar items
  • Understand what number represents how many fingers
  • Know basic shapes like circles, triangles, rectangle
  • Can draw some shapes and lines
  • Repeat simple patterns
  • Can distinguish between different shapes, sizes, and colors

Gross Motor Skills

Gross motor skills are crucial for your child, and best practiced when they play and interact with others. Children ages 1-4 should be active for at least 3 hours a day while a 5-year-old should be spending a minimum of 1 hour playing. By practicing gross motor skills, your child should be:

  • Able to climb stairs
  • Can use scissors
  • Can jump, run, and bounce
  • Can play with a ball (attempt to throw, bounce and catch)
  • Can hold pencils and pens firmly

Social Skills & Independence

  • Can make friends and play with them
  • Can use the bathroom by themselves (including wiping and washing)
  • Can clean up things
  • Can introduce themselves with their names
  • Should have knowledge of their parent's names, addresses, and phone number
  • Can stay attentive even if it’s for a short span of focus
  • Have basic manners, show respect and kindness
  • Should know to say 'Please' and 'Thank you’
  • Should practice conflict resolution with their words
  • Learn about cooperation and teamwork
  • Can take care of their belongings
  • Can eat independently

Tips to Encourage Kindergarten Readiness

It's essential to prepare your kids before sending them off to Kindergarten. A slow introduction to the practices covered can make them feel less overwhelmed on their first day. Here are some tips to make the tasks a bit easier. 

  1. Take your kids on a short school tour or even the school playground. This will introduce them to their friends-to-be, teachers, and classroom. 
  2. They should know to wash their hands, unpack lunch, wipe their mouth after eating, button-up, and velcro their shoes. Fun chore charts like My Starry Chart can foster this independence and skill-building through visual and positive reinforcement 
  3. Follow an Early to Bed and Early to Rising schedule. Make sure they are getting sufficient hours of sleep so they are well rested and ready for the day ahead.
  4. Motivate them to join in school activities and make new friends. Show excitement and encouragement, so they feel excited too.
  5. Take them shopping for their school supplies. Ask what they like so they can be involved in the decision making. 

To Sum Up

Preparing your child for kindergarten is an important life stage. Every kid builds upon kindergarten readiness skills at their own pace. Let them enjoy the process and never feel burdened by it. After all, kids learn better when they get hands-on practice through multi-sensory and playful activities. Parenting is definitely a challenging journey, but equally fulfilling if you mindfully enjoy the ride.

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