Ready for School: 8 Ways to Prepare Your Child for Pre-K and Kindergarten
By Alicia Williamson, Admissions Director
Your child is excited to start school, and you want to help your child be successful in the classroom. How can you ensure that your child is ready for Pre-K or Kindergarten? There are simple things you can do now to make the most of your child’s learning this school year!
1. Read Aloud Together
Spend time together reading books of all genres. As you are reading, ask your child questions like, “What do you think might happen next?” and “What do you see in this picture?” He/She should be able to sit and engage in a 15-minute book. If that’s difficult for your child, start with shorter periods of time and work your way up to at least 15 minutes every day. Practice rhyming words together to get your child accustomed to listening for vowel and consonant sounds.
2. Play Outside
Encourage lots of movement by playing with your child outside in God’s world. Your child should be learning to ride a bike without training wheels and how to walk on a line, curb, or even a balance beam. Playing on a playground with opportunities to climb is important for strengthening muscles, especially core muscles which are necessary for sitting attentively in a classroom chair. And while you’re outside, take time to marvel together at the wonder of God’s creation!
3. Engage Fine Motor Skills
It’s important that your child has strong and nimble fingers upon starting school. You can help your child develop fine motor skills by encouraging activities like building with Legos, cutting with safety scissors, playing with Play-Doh, stringing small beads, and sorting small objects with tweezers. Encourage your child to swing and hang from the monkey bars to build grip strength.
4. Practice Pre-Writing Skills
Letter formation of upper- and lower-case letters and proper pencil grip will be instructed in Pre-K and Kindergarten. Before school starts, teach your child to recognize his/her first and last name in print. Encourage your child to draw and color on both flat (table) and vertical (easel) surfaces. Have your child trace straight, zig-zagged, and curved lines and shapes – first with a finger, then with a pencil, crayon, or marker. Teach your child how to complete simple mazes or dot-to-dots.
5. Count and Sort Objects
Use everyday objects to practice one-to-one correspondence with your child. Not only should he/she be able to count in sequence from 0 to 10 (Pre-K) or 20 (Kindergarten), but your child should also be able to count individual items to 5 (Pre-K) or 10 (Kindergarten). Use small toys like cars or blocks or even snacks, like goldfish or Cheerios, to line up and practice counting with your child.
Sorting objects that are the same and different is another great pre-math skill to practice when preparing your child for Pre-K and Kindergarten. Encourage your child to sort objects by color, size, and other distinguishing characteristics.
6. Foster Independence
Practice using a lunchbox at home or for going on picnics. Have your child practice opening containers and packages independently. Establish a morning routine that is similar to what your child can expect on school mornings. Your child should be able to dress, use the restroom, and wash his/her hands for 20 seconds without assistance. Your child should be able to say his/her full name and birthday. If your child is entering Kindergarten, this would be a great time to teach him/her your address and phone number, too. You could even come up with a little song jingle to help your child remember!
7. Follow Directions
Your child should be able to complete a set of two (Pre-K) or three (Kindergarten) verbal directions. You might need to start with one or two directives and work your way up to three, if necessary.
Practice this skill by instructing your child to:
– get dressed
– put away the blocks
– put on shoes
– wash his/her hands
– put on a jacket
– sit down for lunch
8. Expect Obedience
At schools like Providence Classical School, your child is expected to “Obey, right away, all the way, with a cheerful attitude, every day.” By establishing that expectation in your home before school starts, you prepare your child not only for the school experience but also for a lifetime of obedience to the Lord. “Please” and “thank you” are important words to know and use quite often!
Pre-K and Kindergarten are exciting, formative times in the life of a child. We hope that these tips will help you as you prepare your child for the school year ahead!
About Alicia Williamson:
Alicia Williamson earned her B.S. in elementary education from John Brown University and taught middle school math for four years before leaving to raise a family. She has served as the Admissions Director at Providence Classical School for the past six years. Alicia and her husband, Tim, have three children enrolled at PCS.