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10 Ways You Should be Prepping Your Child for Kindergarten

Whether your child is grown, just entering school, learning as a preschooler at home, nestling as an infant in the crook of your arm, or growing within your belly, you know that registering a child for kindergarten conjures up a beautiful mess of mixed emotions. There’s quite a bit riding on this milestone.  It’s the end of an era and the beginning of another.

We completed the registration process pretty easily earlier this month, and I left feeling…well…blessed. Sure, there are nerves, and on that first day he walks through the doors, there will most likely be tears. But he’s ready. I just know it. And I’m ready. I walked home grateful for the years leading up to this point. I am giving this motherhood ride my all, and it’s exciting to enter the next phrase with our firstborn.

However, I know that before he starts his very own thirteen-year walk through the halls with a backpack on his shoulders, there are a few things that I as a mother need to first instill in him.  I believe in who he is, the love that we give him, and our faith.  While these big feelings may guide our hearts, I hope that some big ideas fill his mind.  It’s with this goal that I plan our days.  We play at home; we learn at home.  And I’m beyond grateful for resources that make this balance just a bit easier.

My current favorite is our sponsor Inquisitive Learning because they do just that with a belief in “creating engaging educational materials that are accessible to parents and useful for everything from test prep to boosting critical thinking skills necessary for success in the classroom.” I’m not a huge fan of workbooks. I’d much rather work on drawing a super hero story or practicing letters by writing cards to grandparents, but as we approach “school-age,” I want our children to feel confident in the layout of a handout, in knowing where to locate directions, in following those directions. In an age of test-taking, I want our children to feel confident in exploring choices for a question and choosing the best answer.

So with their products and these few tips, I am doing all that I can to make sure my eldest is fully prepared for his first day of kindergarten come August…

Preparing for Kindergarten

Provide Structure

While kindergarten is a new and exciting adventure for most children, it also comes with some pretty hefty expectations.  Sitting at a desk or cooperative table, walking in a line, focused circle time on the floor, waiting for turns, etc, etc, etc…  These skills may seem simple to us as adults, but they are REALLY challenging for little ones.  The good thing is, you are probably doing this already without even knowing – through full-time day care, part-time preschool, home schooling, or just a day-to-day structure in your house and with your family routines.

Establish Social Skills

Working with others, using manners, creating and maintaining friendships…these are just a few of the many, many social skills that our children must learn.  School is so much more than reading, writing, and arithmetic – and entering into kindergarten with well established social skills will help our children not only be great citizens, but successful learners too.

Preparing for Kindergarten 1Gather the Right Tools

There are lots of products out there to help prepare children for kindergarten, but it is so important to find tools that will work for you and your little one.  I received the The Little Kid’s Book of BIG IDEAS Problem Solving Bundle, and as a parent immediately thought, “We can do this!” We are at a stage {that I’m pretty sure lasts quite a while} where mom’s learning activities take a back seat to playing.  The layout of these pages makes my job a bit easier.  Because they’ve got a completely age-appropriate lay-out, topics and questions are geared for little minds.  Their products are focused on helping kids learn to problem solve and think critically, but the questions themselves reinforce more basic skills necessary for kindergarten, including shapes, numbers, colors, and letters, but also cutting, gluing, and drawing.  Putting these together creates a great combination for kindergarten prep without it seeming so obvious.

Practice Listening & Following Directions

If you’re a mom to a little one, you probably know the drill…  “Please put on your shoes.” “Please put on your shoes.” “Are you listening? Can you please put on your shoes?”  Children can be a bit…distracted.  Or maybe it’s selective hearing.  Either way, it’s important to boost those little ear listening skills and teach them how to follow one-, two-, and even three-step directions.  {Ex :: “Put on your shoes, get your backpack, and grab your lunch.”  Three steps all in one direction.}  You can certainly practice these skills in real-life learning situations, but I also appreciate the manner in which workbooks and pencil-to-paper practice helps develop those skills in an educational setting too.

Develop Critical Thinking Skills

Analogies, verbal reasoning, mathematical reasoning, and puzzles are just a few examples of big skills that even the littlest of learners can attain! It is so important that our children not only become learners – but also problem solvers and critical thinkers, and here are just a few ways to foster these skills in your regular day-to-day…

  • Provide LOTS of opportunities for play.  Indoor, outdoor, at home, and away!
  • Ask open-ended questions, for example – “This puzzle piece isn’t fitting, what do you think we should do?”
  • Don’t always come to your child’s rescue.  Instead, let them try to solve problems for themselves, and only guide them where needed.
  • When completing workbooks, discuss how they came to find the answer and what strategies they used.
  • Give positive praise and help them view themselves as problem solvers too!

Encourage Creativity

We are big fans of arts and crafts at my house, and we often use it as a creative outlet for everyone {me included}.  However, there are so many different ways to encourage creativity, and it is just a matter of finding what interests you and your children.  A few examples?  Dance, music, cooking, photography – the possibilities are endless!

Preparing for Kindergarten 2Promote Fine Motor Skills

There are so many fun ways to promote fine motor skills…and surprisingly, very few of them involve holding a writing utensil.  Try pinching play-dough, tearing paper, peeling off stickers, lacing beads, fastening buttons, cutting cardstock, painting, stacking small blocks, or working with bolts and screws.  My boys love working on their fine motor skills, and they have no idea how much they are learning by doing so.  Mom for the win!

Boost Independence

There is nothing like revisiting “old skills” to help boost independence in kids.  For instance,  Wyatt was able to buzz through the first several pages in his workbook, and he felt so accomplished after completing them.  So while it is always fun to teach new and exciting things, be sure to not lose sight of what your child already knows – whether it is simple math or even just putting their clothes in the dirty hamper each day!

Tour the School

If your child’s elementary school allows, take them on a tour of the campus before the big first day.  Point out where the cafeteria is, where the restrooms are, and of course – where their classroom will be.  And even if your school doesn’t allow private tours, you will probably get invited to a meet the teacher or curriculum night to get a lay of the land.

Preparing for Kindergarten 3Make It FUN!

Whatever you do to prepare your child for kindergarten, be sure to make it FUN!  Talk about kindergarten as a new and exciting place, emphasize what a big kid they are for going to elementary school, encourage questions and open discussion about all that is to come.  My little man is so excited about his new adventure, and even though I am a wee-bit anxious over it myself, I always put on my happy face and make it fun for him!

 

As these beautiful spring days get longer and fade into the dog days of summer, really try to hone in on what YOU are doing to prepare your child for kindergarten.  Put a little structure in place, engage in fun listening and following direction games, consider grabbing a book or two from Inquisitive Learning Tools. Whatever you do, equip yourself as a parent to give your child confidence in the big ideas he can bring to kindergarten!

It’s your lucky, get-ready-for-kindergarten day! Houston Moms Blog readers can use code CITYMOMSSAVE for 25% off until May 6th. 25% off!! Hop on over and grab yours! Also, enter below for your chance to win The Little Kid’s Book of BIG Ideas {4 Book Set} :: Analogies, Math Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, and Patterns, Puzzles & Sequences {valued at $134.99} too…


Please Note :: While this is a sponsored post, all thoughts and opinions about Inquisitive Learning are proudly my own.

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6 Responses to 10 Ways You Should be Prepping Your Child for Kindergarten

  1. Sarah Crosby April 13, 2015 at 9:04 am #

    excited to look into this. I’ve been looking for things to work on with my boy!!

  2. Courtney April 13, 2015 at 10:24 pm #

    As a pre-k teacher, I was suprised how helpful this article may be to parents. I could agree more. I would just add that they need to be able to recognize their name in a crowd of other name written on a paper… Also, set a timer for lunch time. Most kids don’t realize they only get about 15 min of actual sitting & eating time. Most kids don’t eat fast enough and leave hungry. This leads to behavior and concentration problems.

  3. Nancy April 16, 2015 at 7:11 pm #

    I like their Verbal Reasoning book.

  4. Kim Pieplow April 17, 2015 at 7:38 am #

    Patterns, puzzles, and sequences!

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