Now that I am entering the middle school years with my children, I find myself reflecting back on the elementary days and the milestones we’ve covered so far. I certainly can’t believe we are already here. Seems like yesterday they were learning how to sound out letters and practicing with blunt tip scissors. The pressure of making sure my child was ready for Kindergarten was very real back then and at times, very overwhelming. If your child has a summer birthday you struggle with knowing even when to start them in school. Working in a preschool for over 10 years I get asked frequently what parents can do to ready their children for Kindergarten. Knowing I have successfully graduated three from Kindergarten, I feel I have a better grasp on the most important things a child really needs to be ready.
I learned that recognizing the ABC’s is important, but not as important as the ability to be able to carry their own backpack, put on their coat, and be responsible for their things while at school. Teaching your child to take care of their possessions while at school not only cuts down on your visits to the school’s lost and found (which can be pretty disgusting), it gives your child a sense of self-confidence knowing they can do it. It makes a difference when your child knows you believe they can do these things as well. They will enter that big, new school with a sense of independence and confidence that will take them a long way.
It’s certainly helpful to be able to count to 20, but it is equally important they have the ability to speak up when they need something. Whether they need to use the potty or need help understanding instruction, it is a very valuable skill for them to be able to articulate their needs. As a preschool teacher, I always used the phrase, “Use your words.” As redundantly as it was used in my classroom, it was important for me to teach my students to ask for the things they needed and teach them to express themselves. Knowing how to speak up and having confidence also helps them build friendships at school.
Being able to write their name is significant, but being able to respect and trust those in authority over them will help them succeed in the classroom. Knowing the teacher is placed there to care for them and teach them, provides children with an openness to learn and grow in a safe place. A great relationship between you and their teacher is key; communicate with your children’s teachers. Children will place a higher value on the things done and said in the classroom when they know their parents and teacher act as a team.
The things we stress about may not end up being the MOST important in the long run. They acadmic milestones are important, but rest assured they will get their letters and numbers. The teachers will help them learn to write their names, but YOU are the best one to instill in them those other things that will carry them far in school and life. Don’t dis-credit the day-to-day lessons you teach them about responsibility, confidence, articulating and expressing themselves and showing respect. Teach them to know the importance these things will have in the long haul. And don’t stress! Your child will (more than likely) not fail Kindergarten.
What skills do you hope to have your little one master before heading to kindergarten?