Kindergarten is a big step in a little person’s world. For some who never went to preschool, kindergarten is the first time they’re in a classroom setting with other kids. This can be intimidating and even scary for them, so it’s important to know how to prepare your child for kindergarten.
While some parents think that their children need to know how to sing the alphabet, count, and recognize all their shapes before they enter the classroom, there are other skills that are sometimes more difficult to master.
Emotional & Social Skills
Sure, your child knows his letters and numbers but can he control his behavior, and does he know how to interact with other kids?
“It means being able to self-regulate, to sit in a classroom. It means to have social skills so that you can share and take turns,” school psychologist, Kristen Anderson-Moore Ph.D., tells Parentology.
Anderson-Moore explains that kids need these emotional skills to be successful in school. That can be hard when kids are in a group setting. And while that isn’t happening as much during the COVID-19 pandemic, that doesn’t mean kids still can’t learn those skills.
Moore suggests kids interact with their family, learn how to take care of their pets, and complete small household chores. Parents can also connect with other families through Zoom or FaceTime so kids can continue to interact with each other. Although it’s not in-person, they can still communicate and share things over the internet.
All of these things can teach kids how to develop the social skills that are needed for kindergarten.
Establishing a Routine
Kids also need the physical skills to write, draw pictures and do other tasks that are required in school. This means eating healthy and getting enough sleep.
Part of getting enough sleep is establishing a routine for your child. Moore tells Parentology that routines help to support a child’s development. They not only get to understand what’s going to happen, but they also eat a good dinner every night and get to bed at a reasonable time consistently.
“Being healthy and ready for school means children will probably do better academically, but they’ll also be more successful in school in general and be happier, and that augurs well for the rest of life,” says Moore.
Talking to Your Child
Sure, you talk to your child every day, but are you really listening without being distracted by your phone or TV? Talking with your child and listening can help develop their speech and conversational skills.
“Obviously you do that differently with an adolescent than you do it with a four-year-old, but having the basics of that are the same in the sense that you’re listening,” explains Moore.
Asking follow-up questions, commenting, and addressing their concerns is a big part of the process.
Teaching responsibility can be something as simple as putting dirty clothes in the hamper. This begins the process of letting kids know they are accountable for their belongings.
Try to Limit Screen Time
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children ages 2-5 only get one hour of screen time a day. It’s also advised that kids are seeing high-quality programming during that time.
We all know that can be hard these days with kids being more isolated. But, if you can limit their screen time it can help them in the long run.
“Children who spend less time on the internet or television do better in terms of their being healthy and ready for school,” says Moore.
While you certainly should continue to teach your child the alphabet as well as their numbers and shapes, don’t forget about all the other skills that can make their transition to kindergarten much smoother.