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Is your little one getting ready for Kindergarten? If so, one way to be sure this year is a big success is by making sure your child has the skills they need starting from day one. The best part is that getting your child ready for Kindergarten can be a lot of fun too.With these learning games and activities at your fingertips, your child will be able to get the year off to a great start!
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It’s been a few years but I still remember how exciting it was to register my oldest daughter for Kindergarten. It was such a big milestone and a sign that our “baby” was growing up.
Of course, I wanted to be sure that she was going to be ready for Kindergarten and since I was a Kindergarten teacher myself, I knew just what skills we’d need to work on. Getting started ahead of time would help get the year off to a great start!
One thing to remember though is that children develop and grow differently. While one child may enter Kindergarten already reading, others may still be working on recognizing letters and sounds. Let your child learn and grow at a speed that works best for them.
Letter Recognition And Sounds
Letter recognition and sounds are skills that most children are introduced to in pre-K. However, if this isn’t something your child has mastered yet, you’ll want to continue to practice so that your child will learn most, if not all, by the beginning of Kindergarten.
It can be something as simple as using flash cards or playing alphabet bingo (call out the letter or make the sound, depending on which skills you’re working on). There are all kinds of fun activities kids will love, from an Alphabet Island game to Alphabet Acorns, each with a fun toy inside!
Number Recognition And Simple Addition
You’ll want to practice number recognition too. It’s easy to do by making your own flash cards, finding numbers on signs and buildings or playing fun number games. You can also practice simple addition by counting snacks you have one hand, such as cereal. Kids love it because they can snack at the same time (which also makes it good for practicing subtraction!).
There are so many simple ways to work these Kindergarten skills into everyday life, such as counting stairs as you walk up or hunting for numbers on signs as you drive. Get creative…it’s actually pretty fun!
One of the most important things you can do is read to your child for 20 minutes a day. Bedtime is a great time to do this but you can do it any time of day that works for you. It doesn’t even have to be you that does it. My youngest always loves it when her big sister reads to her.
You can also let your child read to you. Some kids will just “read” from memory, meaning they are basically retelling the story because they have it memorize. That’s totally fine…it’s the first step towards reading and it helps them develop a love for books
Children develop differently and every year I’d have few children enter my Kindergarten class already reading. If you think your child is ready, Dr. Seuss’s Beginner Books, BOB books and First Little Readers are good ones to start with.
When you finish reading together, be sure to ask your child questions about the story. You can talk about the main character, setting or even have them summarize the story for you.
Kindergarten Sight Words
Once your child knows their letters and sounds, you can slowly introduce sight words. These are words that your child should know just by looking at them, without sounding them out. Start with simple two letter words like in, on, at, etc and work your way up.
Here’s a printable list to get you started…
We made it fun by leaving “passwords” on the door. Keira would have to tell me the password(s) before we could open the door. She loved this game and once she learned each password, we’d take it down and add a new one. Our rule was that she had to identify a word correctly three times in a row before we could switch it.
You can even make passwords for getting a snack from the fridge or pantry. Once we took a word down, I’d keep a stack for us to review another time.
Another fun activity, one that my Kindergarten students always loved, was a sight word search. I’d tear a page out of old magazines and assign a sight word to search for. If the word was “and”, they’d have to highlight it wherever they found it on the page.
Of course, there are all kinds of fun sight word games that you can play, especially if you’re stuck inside on a rainy day. This Sight Word Swat is a lot of fun and Zingo is one of our family favorites!
Summer Bridge Activities
When I was teaching, parents would always ask me to recommend things that children could do in summer to be ready for the upcoming year. Summer Bridge Activities were always high on my list and last year I even teamed up with Carson Dellosa to share how they help prevent summer learning loss.
You can check out my segment on Sarasota’s Suncoast View to learn more…
Summer Bridge Activities cover all subjects and are aligned with the common core. but they’re more than just workbooks. They’re full of flashcards, ideas for at-home science experiments, outdoor learning activities and more.
I like that it’s a good mix of worksheets and hands on activities to keep the kids having fun while they learn. It’s a great way to help little ones get ready for Kindergarten but you can continue to use them over the years since they go all the way to 8th grade.
More Kindergarten Skills
In addition to these skills, you may also want to work on writing, cutting and basic shapes. Also, on behalf of Kindergarten teachers everywhere, it’s always appreciated when your child comes to school knowing how to tie his or her own shoes!
Getting your child ready for Kindergarten is exciting and you shouldn’t worry if they don’t have all of these skills going in. Children mature and learn differently so what’s developmentally appropriate for one may not be for another. Take your time and go at a speed that’s comfortable for your child because you know them better than anyone. Most of all, this time will fly by so be sure to have fun with it!
How are you helping your kids get ready to start the school year? What specific goals do they want to achieve?