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When your child approaches Kindergarten, it is a moment of self-reflection. About six months from the time my child is due to enter Kindergarten, I really sit back and evaluate…what have I done with their lives so far? Have I done enough? Have I spent enough time? Do I need to change things or do more?
Kindergarten doesn’t need to be a panic moment. A child can quickly learn in Kindergarten. However, the more your child knows from this list before Kindergarten, the easier the transition will be on him. These skills and topics may be covered in Kindergarten, but they are covered very quickly before moving on.
Here are 14 things you should focus on before your child enters Kindergarten. This post contains affiliate links.
How to Use Scissors
This might seem trivial, but the teachers at my school have stressed this is one of the most beneficial
things to work on with your child before school starts. Children need to be able to use those scissors in school, and when you have a class of 20ish kids, it takes time to go through and teach them all how to hold and use scissors. It is a small and simple thing, but if your child can use scissors going into Kindergarten, her life will be easier.
Depending on the style of preschool your child goes to (if your child goes to preschool), scissor skills might not be something you even need to think twice about. If you want or need to work on it at home, however, I really enjoy the Kumon workbooks to help you prepare. I have also co-authored an eBook titled Babes, Tots, and Kids that is a preschool homeschool that can be used from baby on through Kindergarten age–and we wrote it to be able to include all of your children at the same time. We have fine motor skills focus each week.
How to Use the Bathroom Independently
Your child needs to be able to go into a bathroom, use it, pull up pants, and wash hands all independently in Kindergarten. Some children really fight against this skill. Brinley fought against it, in large part because she is so afraid of heights that she was scared to sit on the toilet independently. I explained to her that she had to be able to use the toilet alone or she couldn’t go to Kindergarten. She desperately wanted to go, so she worked through her fears and did it!
How to Put on a Coat/Zip Up Backpack/Etc.
Again, think through the idea of being a teacher in a class of 20ish children. What do the children need to be able to do independently? Even in a class of 10-15 students, the whole class benefits when students can be independent. It would take a lot of time for a teacher to pack each backpack, put each coat on, zip every jacket up, and put backpacks on every back. Help your child learn to be independent.
How to Clean Up After Self
A teacher is not a maid. A child needs to know how to take a napkin and cup to the garbage. A child needs to know how to put her pencil box where it goes. A child needs to realize it is her job to take her paper scraps and put them in the recycling. Have these realities be a part of home life, and your child will be able to naturally incorporate these skills into Kindergarten life. Anything that comes naturally to your child will be of benefit and make the school days easier on your child.
How to Be Patient
It is not easy for a child to wait. At all. Many times in school, you need to wait. It might be patience as you wait for help from the teacher. It might be patience as you wait for your favorite activity of the day to come up. It might simply be in line for the drinking fountain. Patience is a skill that serves a Kindergartener well. We all know an impatient child can wear on your patience, so it is so nice and helpful to the teacher if the child knows how to be patient.
How to Share
School requires a lot of sharing. You share attention. You share talking time. You share space. You share materials. You share toys. Kids need to understand how to share.
How to Sit and Listen to a Book
There are a lot of stories read in Kindergarten. But this skill isn’t only for the story reading. The teacher will need to give explanations and instructions. If your child knows how to sit and listen, it will help with many aspects in the day.
How to Take Turns
Children need to take turns at the drinking fountain. They need to take turns talking. They need to take turns looking at a certain book or playing on the swings at recess.
How to Count to Ten
You want your child to be able to count to at least ten. Getting to twenty is a nice bonus. You also want your child to be able to count ten objects, so if you put ten crayons in front of your child, she would be able to count them out.
How to Identify Numbers
Your child will need to be able to count, but also be able to look at a number and know what number it is.
How to Sort
Sorting is needed for math time as well as in basic life.
How to Distinguish Shapes
Yet another math skill needed is to recognize shapes.
How to Recognize and Say the Letters of the Alphabet and Their Sounds
Kindergarten moves quickly. Words and their sounds will be reviewed at the beginning of the year, but that is what it is. A review. The more your child knows, the easier the jump into transition will be.
How to Write Letters
Knowing how to write letters will b a big help to your child. If this is a challenge, at the least have your child work on writing and fine motor skills with correct pencil grip. You can do this through fun activities–they don’t have to feel like “worksheets” and homework.
These 14 things are overwhelming if done the week before school starts, but quite easy to teach slowly over time. There are endless ideas online, and again, my eBook Babes, Tots, and Kids will help you build these skills. Keep in mind you just want your child to be equipped to move at the pace of the curriculum without having to worry about basic social or academic skills.