Best Way to Prepare My 4 Year Old for Kindergarten?

Updated on December 24, 2007
K.A. asks from Arlington, TX
10 answers

Ok, Yes, I am a teacher, so you'd think I'd know this, right? Well, it's totally different when it's my own child! Teaching 1st grade, I get the kids AFTER they can say letters/sounds, write their name, and mostly, read. My 4 year old starts kindergarten next year. He is expected to write his name, and to be able to identify letters and sounds. I have bought the Leap Frog Letter Factory DVD. I'd like some suggestions on helping him practice writing his name, and identifying the letters and sounds. Thank you!

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answers from Dallas on

The Leap Frog video is GREAT! My youngest recoginized ALL the letters and knew their sounds before he was 2 yrs old. He learned them from this video, I bought it for my older child(who was almost 3 yrs old at the time). He loved watching it too! Also, I dot the letters for them to trace. I dot their names sometimes, and sometimes I just dot an indiviual letter several times. They LOVE it!

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answers from New London on

I got a couple of fun workbooks geared for boys and we did a few pages a day. Try the Kumon series. They begin with tracing, following lines, curving, writing in the correct direction, holding a pencil, then the next books practice writing. Try Handwriting without TEars. My son had a lot of fun with that series. I got the ones with a certificate of completion in the back, and celebrated by making cookies, or some kind of treat. We began maintaining a morning and bedtime routine, so that he was used to getting up and dressing within a certain time frame. Leap Frog is great, and feels more like play to a child. Look for teachable moments, talk up going to school, find a friend that will be in his class, and set up a few play dates ahead of time so he has a friend in class. Meet the teacher ahead of time. Good luck.

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answers from Beaumont on

I put my four year old son in mother's day out. He goes twice a week and they do letters shapes colors and practice their name. It isn't as expensive as daycare and they still get the practice.



answers from Dallas on

I have a Day Care and teach every day. I have a small chaulk board and we do the letters over and over. Name then sounds. Numbers. We can erase and do it over. Correct and correct. We are now learning house numbers and addresses. My students are 3. Say it, write it over and over and repeat it. The one, two buckle my shoe catches on fast. ABC song. Music even if you sing bad they learn it. Good Luck G. W



answers from Longview on

For my boys the things they needed were simple and often ignored...

holding a pencil, holding scissors, any fine motor skills. Boys progress slower with these things as well as the other areas.

Then as you are working on these things--maybe 10 minutes a day--you can be cutting out letters/shapes/numbers. You can also be writing his name on his finished products. You can say the sounds of each object through the day. For example you go to the mall. So mall starts with an M and sounds like MMMmmm.. An hour later you go to the Bathroom. So that starts with a B and sounds like B with your lips together and blowing up just like a weird gun--boys relate to sounds really well in this manner. Watch him play--he may not verbalize what he is doing, but most likely his toy cars make all kinds of sounds. LOL ;-)

For what it is worth--I taught preschool and found even the ones (my youngest included) that did not want to work on these skills caught up in Kindergarten. They were motivated in the classroom to do things they would not do for mom. :-0
So my kid that would not write more than his first name and only knew half the alphabet, was taking spelling tests by March or April! LOL



answers from Dallas on

My little guy will start kindergarten next year too. I have been working through the book, "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegried Engelmann. It is an amazing book and my now 5 year old is reading basic books. I also did all the Leapfrog videos: Letter Factory and Word Factory and even the Math one. We also practice counting with pennies & we put them in piles of 10 up to 100. Then we count by 10's. We only do the reading maybe twice a week.



answers from Odessa on

We are homeschoolers, and our wacky early education program goes like this:

We play UNO to help identify colors and numbers. Some of the younger set can't hold their cards very well, but they are allowed to spread the cards out in front of them on the table so that older kids and adults can help. The speed at which they learn the colors and numbers is miraculous with this game.

We practice writing names just by plain, ordinary copywork. Get some imaginary line paper, copy his name in your neatest print, and help him practice copying his name every day.

The best way that we have found besides flash cards for letters and sounds is through videos and TV programs such as Sesame Street or the one that you mentioned above. You can probably find some really great videos for beginning readers at your local or school library. Look through his toys and see if you have any games or toys that help with the ABC's. My kids had an electronic toy that had push button letters that would say the letter, sound, and an example word out loud when the button was pushed. Other than that, you can just hold up the flashcard, have him trace the letter with his finger, and practice the letter sounds out loud together. I also teach Girl Scouts, and I have noticed that the youngest children practice extensively on letter sounds. They spell by saying each letter sound out loud. It's really funny to watch them trying to write in this way, but it works. I'm sure that you could teach this method to your four year old. For example, if the child is spelling the word "cat", the child would start saying "cat.....ku, ku, c....aah, aah, a....tu, tu, t..." Even if you don't have him trying to write these words down, you could still show the words and practice breaking down the sounds in this way. At the dollar stores, you can usally find alphabet coloring books. We had some that featured a new letter on each page, and each page was filled with objects to color that began with that letter. This can be fun! Enjoy your future kindergartener.

Have a Great Day!
L. Santiago



answers from Dallas on

Use different sensory methods--use refrigerator magnets of the alphabet along with the DVD--for a full sensory experience. Being a teacher, you know first-hand how we all have learning "languages" and usually a 4-year-old has one, too. Try to find out which one is his, or if he has a blend of 2 or even 3, then use it to your best advantage.
Go to Mardel--they have TONS of homeschooling supplies. Be will be tempted to buy a cartful of stuff! LOL



answers from Dallas on

We got a Leapster TV. Lots of games have phonics/basics, etc.
I am going to get some table mats that you can trace letters on, etc.
Oh... and the old fashioned FLASH CARDS!
Also you could get him a spiral notebook and cut out A... and words that start with A (that he knows)... also logos and other things HE KNOWS... which will help him when he starts reading... it's about identifying... as you know.

I can't wait to read more ideas. Great question.



answers from Houston on

In addition to the Leap Frog DVD, they have a toy from Leap Frog called the Fridge Phonics. It has magnetic letters and an electronic case that you put them into and when you insert the letter, it tells you the letter and the sound it makes. My daughter loves it. There is also a similar toy (also from Leap Frog) that helps them begin to learn to spell. I think it's called the Word Whammer (from the movie). Both come with only upper case letters, but WalMart also sells an add on pack that works with the set that has the lower case letters. I think the best way to get them interested in learning it is to incorporate the learning into their playtime. When playing with my daughter, I will always ask her what color, what shape, what letter, sound, etc. She learned her numbers, colors, shapes and letters before she was 18 months old because we talked about them all the time just playing with regular toys.

As for the writing, I have seen some fun Aquadoodle and DoodlePro toys that have a stencil type toy on them that helps them trace the letters. I'm sure, as a teacher, you could go to a teacher store and find some pre-school or Kindergarten workbooks that might be fun for him. Give him some art supplies and help him trace and cut out the letters and numbers, then draw an animal or something that begins with that letter. Make it fun for him and he will learn it before you know it without even realizing it!

Best of luck to you. I have a friend whose twins are starting Kindergarten next year and she is going through the same thought process right now. But, don't worry, there is a wide range of abilities in kindergarten, so even if your son can't do these things when he starts, he will learn it very quickly when in the classroom.

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