Welcome to a new series on This Mom Loves called Ask the Teacher! Do you have a question? See the end of the post for how to send it in! The first one comes from a Facebook follower who contacted me with something that was on her mind.
How can I make sure my child is ready for kindergarten?
As a kindergarten teacher, most often when I am asked this question, the parent is thinking about academic skills that their son or daughter should have before entering school. The truth is, there are other skills that I am much more concerned about.
Here are some important things to focus on as your child prepares for school – and you’re probably already doing them!
Socialization – taking turns, waiting, being gentle and using words (“Please stop, please give that back, etc.”) instead of being physical, playing with kids around the same age (there’s a different dynamic with older/younger siblings)
Separation – spending time apart from parents
Toilet training – listening to their body and going to the bathroom when necessary, knowing how to unzip/zip, wash hands properly, etc.
Independence – putting shoes/jacket on, opening and closing lunch containers, putting items in backpack and zipping it up, playing for short periods of time without adult direction/affirmation, tidying up after themselves
Learning readiness – reading together daily, being able to sit and pay attention to a storybook and answer questions about it (What happened at the end? What was your favourite part?), exploring a puzzle, game or toy for extended periods (at least a few minutes at a time), holding and using pencils, crayons and scissors
School positivity – the parents play a huge role in this: talking about school like it’s fun and exciting, asking them how they feel about going (not “are you scared?”), knowing it’s okay to make mistakes and that we learn from them
Of course if your child is ready, some basics like counting to 10 (counting items accurately 1:1), and recognizing those numbers, singing the ABCs (helpful to do this along with a book or YouTube video – Jack Hartmann videos are great – so kids see what each letter looks like and don’t think LMN is the name of one letter!), exploring rhymes, recognizing their name and trying to start printing it if they’re ready (here’s a great make-your-own-practice-sheet site: https://www.handwritingworksheets.com/flash/printdots/sentence/index.html)…but it’s not expected that kids will have mastered these things by the time they arrive in our classroom.
The fact that you’re asking already speaks volumes about how much you care, and what a supportive, involved parent I imagine you will be once those school days arrive. Just remember that kids can be anywhere from 3 years and 8 months to 4 years and 8 months when they begin school here in Ontario. That’s a huge difference and as teachers we are totally expecting a range of skills and readiness when they arrive, and we can take it together from there. Thank you for caring!
Have a question for the next edition of “Ask the Teacher”? Comment below, message me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. No names will be used!