When I first began my teaching career, kindergarten was a half-day program and primarily focused on play and socialization. Wow, have those days changed!
Today, many kindergartens are on a full-day schedule and are much more academic and structured. Kindergarten readiness is not the simple transition into elementary school that it once was. Common Core State Standards and children’s preschool experiences make modern kindergartens the true start of a child’s elementary school experience. If your child is entering kindergarten, here are 10 simple things you can practice beforehand to help him face the challenges of a modern kindergarten classroom.
Practice upper- and lowercase letters as “partners.” That means learning “Aa, Bb, etc.” together, rather than all capitals. And practice until he can recognize them out of sequence.
Hear and recognize rhymes. This promotes phonemic awareness and is a precursor to reading.
Start to recognize the sound of letters in the beginning of words. For example, knowing that “bunny” starts with “b” and “sun” starts with “s.”
Write his name, using one capital letter and the rest lowercase. One way to practice this is for an adult to print the child’s name with a highlight marker (any color but yellow, since it’s too light) then have him trace inside the highlighted letters with a pencil.
Count numbers 0 to 20, and recognize those numbers in and out of sequence.
Encourage playing well with others. If possible, arrange play dates, visits to local parks with other children, or library group story hours.
Know and be able to draw four simple geometric shapes: circle, square, triangle, and rectangle.
Know the days of the week, starting with Sunday.
Be able to draw a simple person, with recognizable arms, legs, and facial features such as eyes, nose, lips, ears, and hair.
For safety reasons, young children should know their full name, address, and telephone number.
Having knowledge of these simple skills can help your child transition into kindergarten with ease and with confidence.
Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.