My Miss H is approaching two years of age so I’ve been thinking about getting ready for kindergarten. Yes I know that’s in two years. But remember they are always developing! So as I have no idea I decided to ask my dear, (very) long time friend Kelly, who has taught junior primary for 7 years, what she thinks.
Here are her 12 ideas of how you can best prepare your child for kindergarten (in no particular order).
- Read lots of stories!! Read to your child daily. Identify the parts of a book, talk about the pictures, draw their attention to the words on the page and how words convey meaning. Point to words when reading so children can see that we read from left to right and ask your child questions about the story. Blank Level Questioning, identified by Marion Blank, covers four different levels of questioning starting with concrete questions moving through to more abstract questions (to download, see this link).
- Talk, talk, talk! The more you talk with your child about who, what, where, why and how the more their vocabulary and oral language skills will develop. For example: look at photos and talk with your child about who is in the photo; talk with them about what’s for breakfast and how you’re making it; talk about where you’re driving to in the car and what you can see along your way; talk about how and why things happen – children remember so much more than you realise.
- Your child’s name. Assist your child to identify their name in print, to write their name (using correct pencil grip) and to orally identify the sounds in their name (focus is on letter sound not the letter name as children need to know the sounds letters make to read and write).
- Incorporate numeracy skills into your daily routine. Count the flowers in the garden, count to add up the red and the pink flowers – how many altogether? Count the fruit in the fruit bowl – there are 5 bananas and 4 apples – which is more/less? Count the toys in the bath – which toys float/sink? Identify where we see numbers – letterboxes, telephone, number plates, price tags at the shop etc. Talk about things that are big/large, medium/middle-sized, little/small, short, long etc.
- Fine Motor Skills. Building children’s fine motor skills is extremely important during the early years. Some ways you can easily do this at home are by getting your child to button/unbutton their clothes, zip/unzip their clothes, eat using cutlery, pull out weeds in the garden, build and create with play dough, draw pictures (using correct pencil grip), sing rhymes with finger actions such as Incy Wincy Spider, spread butter on their bread and use scissors to develop cutting skills (under supervision).
- Gross Motor Skills. Increase your child’s gross motor development by including running, balancing, climbing, hopping, skipping, jumping and ball skills in your daily routine. Get your child to count how many jumps from the back door to the clothes line, enjoy the local park, draw a hopscotch game on the pavement and play together, have running races, practise skipping to the letterbox or kick the football out the front on a sunny day.
- Following Instructions. Praise your child for following instructions within an appropriate period of time. Begin with simple one step instructions such as “please bring that book here”. Then move to two step and more complex instructions such as “put your shoes on and get your drink bottle” or “eat your toast then you can wash your hands and go outside to play”.
- Self Sufficiency. Is your child ready for recess and lunch at kindy? Can they open containers and lunchboxes? Does your child know how to use their drink bottle? Can they un-wrap their sandwich? Can they open food packets such as muesli bars or yoghurt containers? Are they able to peel their banana or mandarin? Not only does each of these things support fine motor development but they enable children to be more self-sufficient.
- Teach your child to dress themselves. Can they put their own jumper on and take it off? Do they know the tag goes at the back? Are they able to put their shoes and socks on the correct feet and take them off? Start working on tying up shoelaces (this may take a while to learn).
- The First Day. Prepare your child for the first day of kindy by going to visit their classroom prior to the first day of school. Meet the teacher if possible. Have short play-dates with friends/family members where you are not there the whole time, to assist with anxiety that sometimes arises with separation. Involve your child in the process of packing their school bag each day/evening and talk about what they love about kindy.
- Work on sharing, taking turns and using manners daily. Play games that involve sharing and taking turns, praise your child when they are seen taking turns with siblings and encourage saying please and thank you regularly throughout the day.
- Bonus tip for once they are in kindy! If you are unsure of how to best support your child throughout their kindergarten year, speak with their classroom teacher. All children learn at different rates and what may be an area of focus for one child may not necessarily be the same for another child.
I think these are such great tips – what did you think? Have they helped you understand how to help your little one be ready for their first big day at kindergarten???
To download the “Blank Level Questioning” document, see here.
To see my Pinterest Board of ideas and resources to help with preparing your child for kindy, see here.