Truth be told, I don’t love the term “ready for kindergarten”. My middle child starts kindergarten in just over two weeks and I couldn’t be more excited for him to start this exciting new chapter of his life. As a former kindergarten educator who knows the ins and the outs, what have I been doing to get my child “ready” for kindergarten?
Well, nothing extra. Nothing more than what we normally do. If you follow me on instagram, you know I value play-based learning. Children learn best and develop new skills through their every day play; social skills, emotional, cognitive, and physical. So if you’re giving you’re child opportunities to play, you’re getting them “ready” for kindergarten.
I came across an article the other day that talked about very tangible measurements when it came to kindergarten readiness and it made me laugh. It was absolutely absurd the way it talked about such specifics such as:
-Your child can identify every letter in the alphabet
(this is ridiculous- all children will come in at different levels..some kids are only 3.5 years old!)
-Your child can sit still (ex. for a story)
(again children are all different and sitting still is very hard for some young ones)
(really? most grown ups can’t even “handle” emotions…THIS takes time and practice)
After having a chuckle, I realized that parents might be reading this nonsense, worried that their child isn’t ready; that they won’t measure up.
By now, it’s obvious I very much disagree with some of the advice that is out there. But I do have some words of wisdom for you if you’re little one will be heading off to school soon. It’s not a check-list to see if your child is ready or to determine how they will stack up academically compared to their peers. It’s just a few simple things you can do to help build their confidence; these aren’t skills that need to be mastered in any way before going to school.
Self Help Skills:
I was chatting with some amazing teachers that I have had the pleasure of working with in the past and we agreed that self-help skills are the most important thing you could be working on with your child. Self-help skills are when children can do things/overcome problems without help from others. Examples of self-help skills that you should be encouraging in your child that will make a difference in kindergarten and help them through their day include:
-putting shoes on and taking them off on their own
-dressing on their own
-opening food containers
-repacking and zipping up their lunch bag
-zipping and unzipping their backpack
All of the above-mentioned skills take place during busy times of the day. For example, getting ready for outside and there are thirty kids that need to change their shoes and put on a sweater… with potentially one educator to help them all? It can be a bit hectic- obviously your child’s teachers are there to help, but it can still be stressful for some children who are shy and too afraid to ask for help.
Basically, we want to encourage independence in our children and build their self-confidence. We want to encourage them to TRY, to persevere, and to take risks. We want to encourage all these things when it comes to self-help skills…but these qualities will definitely contribute to academic success overall.
These are things you can work on if you choose, that will help your child when it comes to busy parts of their day. Being able to do these things on their own before school would be awesome. But if they can’t? Well- then it will be just as awesome to see how much they grow and are able to do independently when they come out on the other side.