How Are You Preparing Your Kindergartener?

Updated on July 17, 2011
H.S. asks from Kings Mills, OH
13 answers

We're already a month into summer, and with less that 2 months left before the first day of school, I wanted to see what moms are doing to get their children ready for kindergarten? Work books? Flash cards? And do you work on something every day with them so that everything stays fresh? Or are you letting them enjoy their summer? My daughter did great in preschool this year but I'm concerned that if we don't start "working", that she'll forget what they went over all year.

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J.D.

answers from Philadelphia on

My daughter starts kindergarten in the fall also, but I haven't been doing anything. I think she'll be fine! I wouldn't stress about it! Enjoy the summer!!!!!!!!

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D.B.

answers from Norfolk on

Work on fine motor skills. Spend a lot of time drawing (not coloring) with crayons or with sidewalk chalk. Get those lacing cards from a teacher's supply or bookstore and work on those. Hit the library, choose well-illustrated, non commercial (meaning Newbury and Caldecott winners, not Disney), and read, read, read together. Practice anticipation - before you turn the page, ask your child what they think will happen next, or what they would do if they were in the story. Work on knowing colors, numbers to at least ten and letters of the alphabet and their sounds. You do not need expensive flashcards for this. You can just draw the letters or numbers with chalk or crayons. Play mailcarrier - deliver a "letter" to your child in an envelope every day then see how many things your child can name beginning with that letter in one minute. Let them deliver letters to you, too. Kids love to test their parents and they learn from your responses. Make sure they know their name, full address and telephone number and YOUR full name, i.e, Susan Johnson, not "Mommy." Knowing the name of their city and state is great if they already know the basics. You can buy some large lined green kindergarten paper and let your child practice drawing sticks and balls, or, if they seem adept at that, practice letters. Just don't push, stick them with workbooks or coloring books or anything that is a chore. If you want to teach shapes, give them paper with a shape drawn on it and tell them to finish the picture to show what that shape can be. A circle can be a ball or the sun or a cherry pie and a triangle can be a pizza slice, the sail on a ship or the roof on a house! This type of activity - or any kinesthetic activity - helps them develop not only ordinary memory, but "muscle memory" for things like shapes. I always used lto ove using those matching card games - the ones where you turn all the cards face up, give them a few minutes to remember which card is where, then turn the cards face down and let them turn over cards to try to match pairs. All of these things develop the sort of skills they will use in Kindergarten and all of them have fun and play value. Summer is for fun, after all! So enjoy.

(BTW, my kids are grown. The oldest has a bio degree from VCU, a master's in education from CUNY and is a New York City Teaching Fellow. The youngest is a rising high school senior who just aced AP Latin and Trig. I was a very hands on mom educationally but NEVER a workbook, nose to the grindstone mom. Learning to think, learning how to learn, and learning to love doing both of those things is key. If anyone is interested in suggestions for books for kids, e-mail me - ____@____.com or send me a message here.)

D.

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J.S.

answers from Minneapolis on

My son starts in the fall... really we are not doing anything either. We do take a garden/nature class once a week and I try to get the crayons out every once and a while. I'm not going to stress about it, it's only kindergarten! We do our usual stuff, bike rides, park days, zoo trips... cabin time. Summer is short and kids are only little for such a short time. They have the rest of their lives to do homework.

:)

J.

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C.W.

answers from Indianapolis on

Let them be a kid and enjoy the summer. Too many parents push kids way more than they need too. They'll have plenty of time to learn during school. If there's a rainy day and have nothing to do, then do some flash cards for fun, but you don't need to "prepare" for anything.

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M.T.

answers from New York on

Working in an elementary school, I will tell you that flashcards and workbooks aren't necessary for kids entering kindy. Knowing how to read is not necessary either.
Things that are helpful - knowing how to write their first and last name using proper casing. Many parents teach their kids in all uppercase letters because it's "easier" but it is not acceptable in school. Have them write their name on every picture they draw or paint, get them into this habit now. It's helpful for kids entering kindy to know how to zip their own jacket. Don't send them with clothes that they can't zip/button/etc themselves. Being able to tie their own shoes is a huge plus. Work on nose blowing! Also, being able to follow a multi step direction (put your blue folder in the bin, hang up your backpack and get a pencil). Don't laugh but be sure they are accustomed to wiping their own bottom, teachers do not do that in kindy (and kindy teachers do get kids calling from the bathroom because they need help to wipe). Skills of independence and following directions are more important than the academic skills. Your child's teacher will take care of the academic skills.

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M.S.

answers from Chicago on

I regret not doing more last summer before KG started... My son struggled and still is. Every child is different. I guess I didn't know what was going to be expected. I wasn't expected to read in KG, so I didn't think he would (wrong). I would say practice name writing, and all the letters upper and lower case. Also, start with the sounds of each letter. Make flash cards of some words, the, she, he, this, go, on, etc... Also do some general math. How many steps from the front door to the mailbox, etc... Our kids had to count to 100 and also by 10's. They also were introduced to coins. Just some things my son worked on in public school in IL. Private schools out here are way more advanced. So I guess it depends on your school system. Make it fun. Good luck.

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C.B.

answers from Cincinnati on

H.-- Play, Play and more Play! Preschool was all about social skills and learning to self regulate... this summer do play groups, playgrounds, play-based summer camps, play time with you... etc. I teach teachers (and was a teacher) and Kindergarten teachers regularly say that on the first day of Kindergarten they would take a child with great social skills over a child with great academic skills any day. The academic stuff is their job, the tough stuff is the social pieces... that is much more difficult to teach in a short amount of time. Join your local Libraries Summer Reading Club, (which, I think, gives away tickets to the Cinci Zoo) read and then play some more! Good for you for being pro-active, by the way. You will make your child's teachers very happy! Have a great summer!

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K.S.

answers from Detroit on

My daughter will begin kindergarten this year, and I am doing what I have been doing with her since she was born. I introduce her to things to see how she reacts, see what she thinks it is and its purpose is, and show her how to learn from the experience. This works for nature (frogs, moon, etc.), machines (gears, conveyor belts, windmills, etc.), stories (reading or telling tales), general information (personal family history or tree, etc.) and the like.

I leave the crayons out and ready to use. I asked one of my brightest students (I teach high school) who attends MIT now what she would suggest for learning. She said drawing. As a result, my child has a large supply of pens, crayons, markers, rolls of masking tape in various colors and an unlimited supply of paper. She has been drawing since before she started speaking. The detail in her drawings is astounding. The drawing helps with observational skills, working and processing to understand concepts, planning, and is a emotional release as well. Together, we make a big "mural" out of paper for one of our walls and change it seasonally. Her other sketches and artwork is taped everywhere, not just on the fridge. Art is a way she communicates with us and explains her world. As a result, she seems to be fairly creative and imaginative.

"Go outside and play" was a mantra when I was a kid, and my child, too, spends a lot of time outdoors. Ride the scooter, go to the park and play on the swings, go swimming, go camping, hunt for insects, water the flowers, plant a garden and watch the sun set. She also has free time to create her own scenarios and play them out.

Keep your supply of blocks out and some toys that allow for creative role play with scaled figures (I like Plan Toys). When my daughter reads a new story or has a new experience, she invariably tries to act it out with her blocks. In the past week, her wood toys have been a castle, a dance recital stage, two airports, a marina, and a carnival. Priceless.

I love the title of that book, "Einstein Didn't Use Flashcards." Though I haven't read it, I love the advice in the title. Find letters and shapes in nature. You could even photograph them. Count stuffed animals. Think hands on.

When we have a question we wonder about during the day, we take a look for the answer on the computer, or see if we can figure it out on our own.

Travel.

Read.

Enjoy each other.

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D.T.

answers from Indianapolis on

The first thing YOU should do is read Einstein Never Used Flashcards. Great book. Goes into details about how little kids learn best and why. Tons of studies back up the book. The best way to prepare your child for kindergarten is let her PLAY -- freely and unstructured with and without friends with no parents interfering or hovering. The best thing you can do for your child is let them learn how to problem solve -- most kids/teens/young adults today have no clue how to problem solve (although they think they do). The learn this best through good old fashioned play with open-ended toys - cars, blocks, rope, bucket & shovel, balls, etc (nothing electronic or push button).

Other than that, the important things kindergarten kids need to know she probably learned in preschool -- sit quietly for 10 minutes, raise hand to talk, how to walk in a line, share toys, clean up after herself, etc. My kindergarten teacher friends say they can teach a class anything very quickly if all the students can do those things.... everyone in my son's class was reading level 2-4 books by Christmas even though half didn't know the whole alphabet when school started.

I have a daughter starting (full-day) kindergarten this fall and we're letting her play. She occassionally asks for a math workbook and she's teaching herself how to read but we don't force it or suggest it, although we do encourage her when she tries. She's only 4 - she should enjoy playing being a little kid.

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T.J.

answers from Seattle on

Learning can be fun too! We play learning games in the car, and every day at least once at home. During my two year old's quiet time, my five year old and I sit down and practice letters or do a fun workbook activity. She doesn't really like learning and paying attention and I don't want her to struggle all of a sudden come fall, or forget what she learned in preschool. Her fine motor skills are amazing so we mostly work on letter sounds, letters, and numbers.

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M.C.

answers from Detroit on

We've been having our son improve his fine motor skills by having him print his name, ride his bike and ice skate. He also will be taking a preschool summer camp where he will learn different themes every week that he attends such as nature, dinosaurs, safety, etc. He also plays with his friends and plays computer games.

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S.S.

answers from Toledo on

In the state of Ohio, teachers would love it if the children had the below skills mastered. Anything beyond is a bonus and will have your daughter at the top of her class.
-recognize all upper and lower case letters of the alphabet (knowing all sounds also is even better)
-recognize numbers and count out objects 1-5 (1-10 even better)
-rote count to 10 (to 20 even better)
-write her first and last name (with no letter letter reversals)
-understand the concept of rhyming
-recognize the 10 basic colors
-correctly draw a circle, triangle, square, and cross

My daughter had all of these concepts mastered when she started so she started at the top of the class. From there, we continued (at home) to work on skills (such as reading, writing, and math facts) throughout the year which left her at the top of the class.

Also, everything we do is done as a game or in a fun manner which makes learning fun. My daughter enters 1st grade in the fall and we are already halfway through the 2nd grade high frequency word list and continue memorizing all of her math facts, + and -, up to 12. I do not push her or do more than I think she can handle. We have never hit her frustration level.

Good luck and if you ever need more ideas, send me a message.

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J.M.

answers from Boston on

Read to her. Otherwise, take her to the pool : )

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