Getting ready for kindergarten

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Young family with child at table
Help your little one get ready for the first day of kindergarten
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The knowledge of the world is only to be acquired in the world, and not in a closet. - Lord Chesterfield

Teachable Moments

In order to prepare children for kindergarten, preschool teachers suggest that parents take advantage of "teachable moments" whenever possible. That is, respond to what your child is interested in at that moment by explaining the process, defining the term, or providing necessary background information related to an activity while they are actively engaged in it. For example, at the end of a Sunday trip to the zoo your main goal may be to rush to the car and head for the grocery store. However, your son notices a baby monkey in a cage near the exit and lingers, questioning you about siblings. Taking advantage of that moment and answering and even elaborating on his questions will not only satisfy his curiosity but also encourage him to gain confidence in his ability to understand his world.

Another great way to make learning fun and enjoyable for your child, the implementation of educational games & toys might be a good idea. This way your child will associate learning with fun and games.

Even if your child is attending preschool, you want to be sure she has developed all the necessary skills to be prepared for kindergarten. An effective way to ensure your son or daughter will have a fun and fulfilling school year without feeling pressure to "catch up" with peers is to individually work with him or her and assess important skills in the following areas.

Social Skills

Play by the rules! Children need to understand the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behavior, especially when interacting with other children. If your child does not attend preschool, you may want to consider joining a playgroup to allow your child ample interaction with other children. If coordinating a playgroup with friends or neighbors is difficult, consider joining some type of weekly class such as Gymboree, Kindermusik, or story time at the library. You will, on occasion, want to observe your child's interaction with other children and discuss any inappropriate behavior you notice. Helping children reflect on their actions is a valuable component of experiential learning.

Fine Motor Skills

Start Doodling! When entering kindergarten, children are expected to have sufficiently developed their fine motor skills. You can work with your child to improve her ability to draw, write, color, and put puzzle pieces together. Modeling is an efficient way to teach children while helping them remain focused on their task and enjoy the learning process. Children are also expected to correctly hold scissors and cut on a line, so they will need ample opportunity to practice. They should also discover hand dominance prior to kindergarten.

Gross Motor Skills

Get outside! There are few activities that can benefit your child more than a romp outside with mom or dad. Children need to develop their balance and improve their strength while learning to catch and throw a ball as well as run, jump, hop, skip, climb and ride a bicycle. Miniature climbing walls, which can be found at local parks or activities centers, are a great way to help young children increase their strength and endurance as well as their confidence. Help your child develop these skills by getting involved with their play, even if it means working up a sweat of your own to keep up with their active pace!

Content Knowledge

Prior to entering kindergarten, children are expected to know their shapes, colors, letters, and numbers (up to 20). They should be able to recite their address and phone number. A great way to reinforce learning in the home is to label items with colored flashcards or construction paper. For instance, when your child is learning numbers, you can label pairs of shoes with the number "2," groups of blocks with "5" and so forth. For letters, you can print words and label tangible items, such as "chair," "window," "television," and "couch." This ongoing activity will quickly increase your child's knowledge of sight words. As an alternative to flashcards, you can encourage your child to point out and identify items in real life while you are shopping or riding in a car, including numbers and shapes that they spot along the way. Your positive feedback will serve as a great motivator!

Self-Help Skills

Children should be fairly autonomous when entering kindergarten; therefore, it is recommended that they feel comfortable using the restroom independently

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