Many parents are probably thinking about their pre-kindergarten kids starting school in the fall. This can be a tricky road to navigate emotionally. On the one hand, it’s exciting to think about this next new step for your child and all the opportunities and adventures that come with starting school. On the other hand, it can be quite overwhelming as you find yourself wondering, are they ready? Are they prepared for five full days of being at school? Are their skills where they should be? How independent should they be?
These questions weigh heavily on the minds of most parents of pre-kindergarten kids, especially at this time of year. So we want to give you some information to help answer some questions, ease any concerns you might be having, and give you some ideas for some fun kindergarten boosters for you and your child to do together.
To put your mind at ease, let’s start with talking about some Kindergarten myths:
My child should know all of his/her letters.
Not true. Although some children do know all of their letters before kindergarten, this is still an emerging skill for most 4 and 5-year olds, meaning its something they are still learning. Kindergarten will help them start to master this skill.
My child should be able to print their name.
Not true. While printing skills are beginning to emerge for many 4 and 5 year-olds, the ability to print letters is still a new skill for this age group. We’ll give you some ideas for encouraging your child’s pre-printing skills (being able to draw shapes like circles, squares, and triangles) to get them ready to learn to print in kindergarten.
Pushing your child to print letters before they are developmentally ready can set them up for negative experiences and challenges in school with printing. If you sense your child is not ready for printing, focus instead on their pre-printing skills and help them have fun with it (see below).
My child should be able to read simple words.
Not true. Children all develop a little differently, so although Sally from down the street might show a keen interest in reading, this is not a typical skill for pre-kindergarten children.
My child is not interested in sitting down and doing tabletop activities, they won’t be able to cope in kindergarten.
Not true. At this age children still have a strong preference for their own ideas of play. Some prefer to sit and do crafts, while others would much rather be building a fort or playing with their kitchen set. Kindergarten is a time for children to start to build on their skills and learn to be more attentive to tasks such as circle time or art.
There is so much going on developmentally in the mind and body of a 4 or 5-year-old. They are learning at a rapid pace and working hard to take in the world around them and make sense of it all. Motor skills (movement related skills) are developing quickly at this age. As kids become stronger and more coordinated, they become more independent with things like dressing, brushing teeth, using the bathroom, and eating. They also become more confident in their skills and so feel more comfortable exploring bigger parts of the playground or trying out new skills and activities.
On a social level, kids of this age are starting to feel good about helping friends and sharing with others. Although, this is an emerging skill for this age, which means they haven’t perfected it yet (though I’m not sure if we ever perfect this skill).
Watching your child develop and practice these new skills can be exciting and overwhelming at the same time. As a parent sometimes its hard not to worry about your child being behind or not as fast/coordinated/bright/attentive as the next little guy in preschool. Though we know we shouldn’t do it, we’re our own worst enemy at the comparison game.
But the truth is, ALL KIDS DEVELOP DIFFERENTLY. Yes, there is a general progression of skill development, but while one child might be very motivated by all the new biking, climbing, and balancing skills they are learning, the next child is instead excited by all the pictures and shapes they are learning to draw. The brains of little kids tend to zero in on one area of development at a time in order to focus every ounce of concentration and energy into mastering that new skill. Then once they have it, they move on to another skill area.
Kindergarten is a big transition year and with a little extra support from the caring adults in their lives, our kids will be very successful.
We want to leave you with some activities and strategies to try this summer to give your pre-Kindergarten kiddo a little boost for school. If you have any questions about this article or your pre-kindergarten child please comment below or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to chat with you.
Remember this simple, quiet time activity? Grab some simple connect the dot activity books, some colourful markers (the smelly ones are even more fun), and get down to your child’s level and connect (we mean with your kiddo and with the dots!). Showing your child that you’re interested in what they’re doing and having fun with it, will help motivate them to try it too. You can do this at a table or lying on the floor. Lying on your tummy on the floor and propped up on elbows, helps to build strength through your child’s shoulders. Stronger shoulder muscles help your child with developing their pencil grasp and printing skills.
If the activity books are too difficult or not fun, make your own connect-the-dot pictures. Take turns making the dots while the other person connects them. Sidewalk chalk is a great way to have fun with this.
Connecting-the-dots helps boost your child’s skills for printing readiness as well as reading readiness (learning to look ahead for the next dot is similar to learning how to scan with reading).
All you need for this one is a balloon. The best part is it can be done pretty much anywhere. Outside at the park, inside on a rainy day, or even the community centre lobby as you wait for older brother’s swimming lessons to finish. In fact, keeping a bag of balloons in your purse is a pretty smart move for a parent of a 4 or 5-year-old.
Running around like a silly person as you attempt to tap that balloon back and forth and keep it off the ground works on coordination, balance, endurance, and cooperation. The best part is you and your child will be rolling on the ground laughing and out of breath by the end of it.
Who knew a little ol’ balloon could pack such a powerful punch!
Create a visual schedule for your mornings
We did an article for North Shore Mama in March on visual schedules, you can check it out here. We highly recommend creating even just a short schedule (3 or 4 pictures) for your child to help prepare them for kindergarten. Teaching them about the idea of following a schedule, builds independence, teaches your child how to anticipate and prepare for what’s coming up next, and helps them become familiar with a structure and routine to a part of their day. All important things to learn for kindergarten.
Collective Therapy will be running a 4-week online class beginning September 29th called ‘Kindergarten Booster: Making the leap to school’. This class is for any parent of a pre-kindergarten kiddo, looking to find out some information on activities to do and strategies to work into your day to help prepare your child for kindergarten. The class will be facilitated by an occupational therapist.
Registration is now open, head over to our website to grab your spot in class, www.collectivetherapy.ca. Please send us an email if you have any questions (email@example.com).
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