Many families are getting ready to enroll their five-year-old in kindergarten this August.
Parents often wonder if their child is ready emotionally or academically for kindergarten and what they can do over the summer to help their child prepare.
Children who will reach their fifth birthday by September 1st are eligible for kindergarten in California. Some parents elect a transitional kindergarten year to allow extra time to develop socially before kindergarten, however, the data supporting the extra year of development is mixed. About half of the research studies indicate an extra year is beneficial, and the other half contradicts such findings. Data on children other than your own is hard to generalize. As such, knowing your child and their individuals needs is to only way to effectively direct them on a meaningful path.
School readiness is defined as the “ability to cope, learn, and achieve without undue stress.” One of the most predictive components of school readiness is a child’s social skills and emotional control, these concepts are actually more important than simply writing the alphabet and reading.
Some helpful tips to prepare families and children for entering kindergarten this fall include:
- Encourage your child to persist in tasks when encountering a challenge by providing tasks slightly above current ability level.
- Play card and board games to practice taking turns and waiting.
- Arrange for play dates with children of various ages and personalities.
- Expect and reinforce that your child cleans up after play, both at home and when visiting friends for play dates. Do not clean-up toys for them.
- Read to your child for at least 20 minutes each day and ask questions about the characters, their emotions, and what happened in the beginning, middle, and ending.
- Invite your child to help sort items according to color, size, shape, and patterns. Kids love to help with laundry, dishes, and toys when it is made into a sorting game.
- Ask your child what their observations are at the store and while driving. This helps them to be present to their surroundings and practice speaking what they see.
- Limit the amount of screen time for TV, phones, games, apps and devices. Children will get plenty of technology time in most schools- thirty minutes a day at home on devices in plenty for a child five years of age.
- Discuss the importance of connecting with school and finding enjoyment in learning. Share how you like to learn and that learning is a life-long process. Not just for kindergarteners!
Being ready for school is an exciting process, the best gift parents can give their children is their love and a love for learning. Take this time to help your child feel connected with their new school, teacher, and friends. These years will pass all to quickly. Keep in mind, that what children learn in kindergarten sticks with them for the rest of their life.