Playful ways to prepare your child for kindergarten, from guest blogger Katie Heap of Live Craft Eat.
Summertime is coming to a close and that means only one thing – Back to School! For your child entering kindergarten this can be both an exciting experience and one that can make him feel a little hesitant. It is, after all, his first opportunity to put his budding autonomy to the test. Help put him at ease by doing these 4 simple activities that will help him feel more independent and able to face this new milestone in his life with confidence!
1. Time Management
School brings with it a new kind of schedule, having to get to the bus on time, get to class before it starts, and even balance homework with extra-curricular activities. Help your child set up a routine in both the mornings before school and in the time he has after school to help him become better able to manage his responsibilities and learn time-management skills that will help him now and in the future. Practice going through a list of things your child will need to do on his own each morning before school, such as get dressed, make bed, and brush teeth, for example. Give him a goal as to when he should finish them by: “Be ready with your backpack on by 8:00 am.” Or, you could set a schedule with times attached to each thing to be completed: “Wake up at 7:00 am. Eat breakfast at 7:30 am.” and so on. We decided to display a magnetic responsibility chart in our kitchen, and as he completed each task, he was able to put a smiley face beside it, which in turn made him smile and show great pride in his accomplishment! Getting your child into a routine and giving him responsibilities will help him learn to take initiative, self-regulate, and become self-sufficient. Plus, the praise he will undoubtedly receive when all of his responsibilities have been completed will give him a great sense of accomplishment – and that is a great way to start a day!
2. Learn to Tell Time
Directly correlated with “Time Management” (see above), learning to tell time will help your child on his path to independence. With the ability to tell time, he will learn to discern what he needs to be doing at any given time throughout the day. With a shape-sorting clock, we were not only able to learn about time, but about numbers concepts, shapes, and colors – a good brush-up activity for going back to school! This tool is great for teaching children about time because it also includes the minutes – which we used to fill out a “What Time Is It?” worksheet (download printable here).
Once you’ve printed the worksheet, laminate it, or put it in a page protector so it can be used over and over again. Using dry-erase markers, draw arrows in each clock to display different times. Teach your child about the long and short hands – the short hand tells us the hour, while the long hand tells us the minutes. Have your child place the arrows in the appropriate spot on the wooden clock. Have him write in the hour to the left of the colon. Next, have him look at the long hand on the clock and write down the minutes to the right of the colon. Doing this many times over will help your child begin to recognize the number sequences that come with telling time.
3. Learn to Tie Shoes
Not only is learning to tie his own shoes a very practical skill to learn in terms of independence, but it will help your child develop his fine motor skills and achieve a developmental milestone. Not to mention his teacher may appreciate having 2 less shoes to tie every day!
Using a lacing sneaker, or his own sneaker, show your child how to tie his laces. You may have a poem you recite or a song you like to sing, but regardless of how you do it remember that it will take a lot of time, patience, and practice to get it right. If your child begins to get frustrated, take a break. And don’t feel like it has to be a skill mastered by the first day of kindergarten – velcro shoes will do just fine until he gets the hang of tying his own laces. And when he is finally able to do it on his own, he will be better able to get himself ready each morning as well as helping himself at school and elsewhere. Pile on the praise – this is an impressive accomplishment!
4. Taking the Bus
Discuss with your child how the first day of school (and every day thereafter) will work. Children starting kindergarten can be especially wary of going to school on the first day – being away from their family, being in a new setting, and a plethora of other new experiences. If your child is going to be taking a bus to school, find out what the bus route will be and take an opportunity before the first day to drive along the bus route. Show your child where he will be getting on -and off- the bus and point out landmarks he will see on his way home. Additionally, using a school bus set, draw out a map of the bus route, and drive the bus along the route, making sure to emphasize the landmarks you pointed out earlier to ensure he knows exactly where he is and where to get off. “First, pass 3 big trees. Then pass the red house with the big yellow flowers. Get to the bus stop and give mom a hug!”
Also discuss rules for being on the bus: stand in a line and wait your turn to get on the bus, always stay sitting while the bus is moving, listen to the bus driver, only get off at the stop we’ve practiced and only if mom or dad are there, always ask for help if needed, etc.
These 4 activities will help your child feel more reassured about the new and exciting experiences that come with the start of kindergarten. He will feel confident in his new-found independence and will go on to do great things – this is just the beginning!