When I say “Kindergarten readiness” what comes to mind? Knowing letters, some numbers, maybe drawing/coloring or art projects. It’s no secret that kindergarten is much more rigorous than it was 20 years ago, but true kindergarten readiness does seem to be somewhat of a secret. There are two parts: academics AND what’s called social/emotional. In my years as a kindergarten teacher I saw that when I focused on building my students’ work ethic, communication, and problem solving skills in partnership with strong instruction it had a much greater impact than when academics were the sole focus. So, let me break it down a little more for you and give you some tips on how to support your preschooler’s kindergarten readiness.
PART 1: social, emotional, personal
When kindergarteners first walk in it’s pretty overwhelming. They’re in a new school, new classroom, with a new teacher, likely with a bunch of new classmates. The first three days are usually *perfect* and then the truth starts coming out. In my years as a teacher there was always one child who had some sort of highly demanding needs that were undiagnosed (meaning there was no additional support for them yet). I’m not the only one – a study shares that one in five children have a learning disability. Since kindergarten is the first year of public school, most kids don’t have a diagnosis before entering. I could go into a lot of details on that, but that’s beside the point. Being frank here, it made it really tough to teach! I quickly realized that the only way to ensure all of my students kept learning was to teach them exactly that – how to keep learning whether or not they have teacher support. This way, once I was done with the lesson (which, for kindergarteners, is usually pretty short – 5-15 mins) I knew my littles would keep learning even if I was occupied by one student. I taught my students how to ask each other for help, how to help each other, where clues and tools were located around the room. I taught them systems and routines to make sure their supplies were rarely the issue (they still were sometimes of course, because no one’s perfect) and had them ask me to use the restroom or get water with sign language.
Parental take away: teach your child how to be as independent as possible. What can they start doing on their own? Can they put their laundry away, help with lunch, pick up the toys etc. These little things will help them become more independent and comfortable doing things on their own.
Part 2: academics
Letters, numbers, sounds, colors, matching, counting – all of these things are so important for kindergarten. This is the year their brains are developing the ability to read. READ. Your baby (5-year-old) will be reading this year!! Academic learning can be tough because every single child develops differently. Some kids start the year reading and others don’t start reading until April. This is why the independence and problem solving skills are sooo important! If they can work through a challenge, then they can learn all these tricky foundational things.
Parental take away: read to your child on a regular basis and play games that involve counting and matching.
So there you have it. A little introduction to kindergarten readiness. PS if you’re interested in the Kinder Ready Kit just click here and my 4 page PDF is yours for free.