Is your child entering Kindergarten this school year? Or, is your child younger than five but you want to make sure they are on the right track? Here is a list of skills and attributes that will be beneficial for your scholar to have before going into Kindergarten.
1. Listen and follow instructions. Can your child follow directions and requests with two to three steps? Ex. Clear your plate and place it in the sink. This is an important skill in the classroom as students will be asked to do multiple tasks throughout the day as well as transition from place to place. Work on developing this skill by giving your child simple requests and then adding on complexity as they improve.
2. Use the restroom and dress themselves. Does your child know when they need to use the restroom and can they complete that task independently? Can they put their own coat on to go outside? Kindergarten classrooms usually have 24 or more students and only 1-2 adults, therefore your child will need these self-help skills. To work on these skills have them go to the bathroom independently at home and dress themselves in the mornings and at night when getting ready for bed.
3. Alphabet and numbers. Can your child recite the ABC's song and identify some letters in print? Can your child count to 10 and identify some numbers in print? Your child doesn't have to know all their letters and numbers, but the more they know the faster their learning may progress. Use everyday outings and tasks as an opportunity to work on these skills. See a sign? Discuss what it says and identify the letters in the word(s). Buying can goods at the grocery? Have them help you count them out while placing them in the cart.
4. Curiosity! Is your child interested in new things? Do they ask a lot of questions? Do they like to learn how to do things other people are doing? If so, this is a good thing. We want kiddos to want to learn! In order to peak their interest in something, ask them questions to get them thinking. Have them try to solve a problem before giving them the answer. Ex. Too short to reach the milk? What can we do to help you get it on your own? A stool? Great idea.
5. Social skills. How does your child act around other kids their age? Do they talk and play with them? Or, do they shy away and play be themselves? Do they share their toys and materials? Or, do they have a mini meltdown? If your child has difficulty getting along with peers, fill their social calendar with chances to interact with other kids. Place them in daycare, mom's day out, the childcare center at church, play dates, readings at the library, playtime at the playground or splash park.
6. Language, communication, emotions. What does your child do when they are upset? Do they have coping strategies for being angry, scared, or sad? Or, do they cry and throw a temper tantrum? Kids need to be be able to communicate how they are feeling and what they want. When they can't do or have what they want, they should have coping strategies to deal with those emotions. Teach your kids how to do count to ten, take deep breaths, or other strategies.
7. Independence. Can and will your child complete tasks on their own? Throughout the school day they will be asked to complete tasks independently. Of course, their teacher will be there to offer assistance, but classwork will require some independence. At home build this skill by asking your child to do things on their own. For instance, have them pick out their own clothes, put away their toys, or feed the dog.
8. Fine and gross motor skills. Can your child hold and grip a pencil, pen, or crayon? Can they catch and throw a ball or skip? These are skills they will need in the classroom. Have them practice writing letters or numbers with a pencil or crayon. Even if they don't know how to write letters or numbers having them draw and practice gripping different writing ustensils will help.
9. Attentiveness. Does your child listen to you read a book? Can they finish a movie? Do they complete one task before beginning another? It would not be grade appropriate to expect a Kindergartener to sit all school day long and stay focused, but they will be expected to focus for 20-30 minutes at a time to complete a task, like listening to a story being read aloud. To help your student develop this skill, ask them to complete a task and give them verbal and non-verbal (like nodding or giving "the look") reminders to stay on task until the job is complete.
So, there you go! A list of skills and attributes that will help make your scholar's transition to Kindergarten go smoothly. Don't fret if your kiddo doesn't master all of these before August rolls around. Just focus on building one at a time!