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Kindergarten is an important and exciting experience in your child’s life. It represents one of his or her first steps toward independence, provides the foundation for his or her academic life, and even allows your child to practice the basics of social interactions. There are numerous ways to prepare your child for kindergarten, but the five listed below are some of the most important.
Reading will play a role in the rest of your child’s life. After all, just about everything human beings do in life requires at least some reading. One of the best ways to prepare your child for his or her kindergarten experience is to spend part of each day reading. You can read to your child or ask your child to read to you. Even if he or she cannot yet read full words, asking your child to tell you a story in his or her own words based on the pictures can improve his or her reading skills significantly. Even better, pick books that are all about going to school to help your child feel less apprehensive.
One of the toughest parts about going to kindergarten is learning to interact with a large group of other children. Your child’s teachers will do their best to encourage your child to play a role in the classroom so that later down the line, he or she will also play a vital role in the community. You can start teaching citizenship at home by assigning your little one small chores such as sweeping the floor, cleaning up toys, or making the bed. Then, as your child performs these tasks, explain why they are so very important – and be sure to praise him or her for a job well done, too.
Children are often sympathetic by their very nature. They understand when someone is hurt or sad, and they will often try to do things to make that someone feel better. Empathy, however, is a learned skill that involves your child’s ability to put themselves in another child’s shoes to understand how and why they have certain emotions. This skill will go a very long way toward improving your child’s social skills. To reinforce it at home, talk about your child’s emotions as they occur and identify them with the appropriate words. Watch a few television shows or read some books together and talk about the characters’ emotions, too.
You can start developing your child’s math skills at a very young age by asking him or her to count things at every opportunity. For example, if your child is coloring a picture, ask him or her to count the crayons on the table. If you are grocery shopping and you need four apples, ask your child to pick them out. These very small activities can go a long way toward math development, and when it’s time to go to kindergarten, your child will feel confident in his or her academic abilities.
Finally, following directions is essential to your child’s kindergarten success, and you can help prepare your child by roleplaying. For example, you could play a game of Simon Says or Mother May I. Both of these can help hone your child’s listening skills and ability to follow directions. You could also give your child two- and three-step tasks to complete and turn them into a game. As another example, you could ask your child to find a red sock, put it on his head, and turn around two times. It’s fun for little ones, but it reinforces their ability to follow directions carefully.
Preparing for kindergarten may seem overwhelming, but you are probably already doing many of these things at home. Academically, it’s important to focus on reading and mathematics, and when it comes to social interactions, teaching your child empathy, citizenship, and how to follow directions will serve him or her very well for years to come.