I know what many of you are thinking; it’s July. Why should I be worrying about this now? You should worry because school is around the corner. The is the first stop on this journey called the school. Kindergarten, for many of us, was a fun time full of little expectations. This is no longer the case. Kindergarten is a critical component of children’s academic future, and it is important parents get their child started on the right foot by using some time during the summer to prepare.
The past two years, my school has held a kindergarten boot camp the Saturday before the first day of school. The purpose is to give the scholars a taste of what they can expect in kindergarten. It is also an opportunity for us to do some first of the year assessments, so we will have a good idea of what skills scholars already possess. This year, our boot camp will stretch across two days. We learned during the previous two years that the two hours on a Saturday is not enough. Here’s how parents can help:
Tip 1: Talk with Your Child
One of the most important aspects of the readiness of students for kindergarten is their oral communication skills. Oral communication is essential for learning and is one of the simplest activities to practice in the summer before kindergarten. The best thing parents can do is merely talk with their child. When you go to a place, don’t just point out things; talk with them about them. If you are at the park and you see a bird, ask them what they see the bird doing. What color is the bird? How many birds do they see? These are all good strategies and simple activities that don’t take a teaching degree to prepare your child. Storytime is another opportunity to have a conversation with your child. Before you read the book, have your child talk to you about the pictures in the book. Allow them to explore the book’s photographs and tell you what they see. Oral communication also helps to strengthen your student’s vocabulary. Vocabulary is an integral part of early literacy. There is research that suggests increased vocabulary leads to higher reading proficiency and overall academic achievement for students. Get your child talking before they enter kindergarten.
Tip 2: Does Your Child Really Know His or Her Name?
What is your name? Can you write your name? Do you see your name on this paper? These are simple questions, but questions that we ask students during our summer kindergarten boot camp. It is always shocking the number of students that enter kindergarten that actually knows their name, but cannot write it or recognize it. This summer, ensure your child can write and recognize his or her name. Their name should be frequently visible, and they should begin to practice writing it every day until they can write it. When you are at dinner at the restaurant, have your child write his or her name on the color sheet provided at the restaurant. If your child goes to a friend’s summer birthday party, be sure your child writes his or her name on the card. Parents, don’t worry if it’s not perfect or even the slight bit legible. Let the school worry about that. You make sure your child can recognize and write his or her name.
Tip 3: Counting, Counting, and More Counting
Counting is another easy skill you can practice over the summer. Try to use everyday opportunities to practice counting with your child. When you are at the grocery store, ask your child to count the items in the basket. Have your child count how many aisles you walk through. When walking at the park, look for objects to count: how many trees do you see, how many cars do you see parked, or even how many people do you see on the swings? When your child enters kindergarten, you want him or her to be able to count small groups of objects without pointing and counting one-by-one. If less of kindergarten is spent teaching your child how to do basic counting, then the school can spend more time developing math concepts that will push your child along further sooner during their kindergarten year.
Tip 4: I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-C-E
Mom and Dad, it is time to let your little one go. Let their hand go, and let them grow up. You won’t be there all day when they go to kindergarten. It is important that your child develops some independence in preparation for kindergarten. The summer is the time to push their independence. You can do this by teaching your child to attend to their own needs and do tasks without your help. In kindergarten, they will need to know how to go to the restroom and wash their hands without assistance from anyone. You must encourage and push for that independence.
The preparation for kindergarten is an exciting time and should not be a time to get you stressed. Trust and believe, you will be stressed once the school year starts, and you let your little one go for the first time. You still want to ensure your child is as ready as they can be for the first year of school. Keep in mind, this is an important year, but it is only the start to what we all hope is an even larger academic milestone in the years to come. Remember, it is easier to stay ahead than to dig yourself out of a hole.