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How to Get Your Child Ready for Kindergarten 
 
by Jennifer Lovvorn Parker May 20, 2005

Reading and Writing Readiness

Kindergarten students run the gamut from not recognizing letters to full readers. In all likelihood, your child falls in the middle somewhere. There is no question that your child will be more successful if he or she is already reading, but don’t panic if that’s not the case. Here are a few things you can work on with your child:

  • Practice writing his name, and make sure he knows his full name (first, middle, and last). You’d be surprised how many kids don’t!
  • Learn the alphabet, including the sounds each letter makes.
  • Practice phonetic (sound-it-out) writing. (Don’t worry about spelling, that comes later.)
  • Practice fine motor skills by using pencils, crayons ,chalk, markers, or whatever you have handy to draw pictures or write.
  • Learn the names of basic shapes and colors.
  • Practice counting to 20.
  • Retell stories including the beginning, middle, and end.
  • The most invaluable preparation you can do is to begin (or continue) to read together EVERY DAY as part of your routine.

Social Readiness

Today’s K teachers say their biggest obstacle in teaching is classroom management. Behavior, in other words, is tough. If your child is not ready socially, you might even want to consider putting kindergarten off for another year. It’s that important. Here are some ways to help your child prepare to be a successful member of a class:

  • Spend some time observing your child in a group setting. Can she initiate play? Sustain play? Be a contributing member of a team? Now’s the time to teach basics about getting along with others, sharing, working as a team if those lessons haven’t already been learned. And set a good example by minding your manners too!
  • Encourage your child to ask questions.
  • Help him learn to advocate for himself. For example, if he’s cold, will he speak up? If she needs a drink of water, will she ask for one? Children need to be able to ask for help when they need it.
  • Practice following two- or three-step directions.
  • Make your child mind you. If he won’t, set consequences and follow through immediately. This sets the child up for understanding about behaving for the teacher.
  • Before school starts, discuss behavior with your child. Be specific about what you expect. Decide ahead of time if there will be consequences at home for getting in trouble at school.
  • Play school. In doing so, you can practice sitting at a desk, raising your hands, asking permission, keeping things neat, etc.

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