3 Ways to Help Your Child Prepare for Kindergarten
August is Get Ready for Kindergarten Month and LearningRx has three tips to help parents prepare their children for kindergarten.
1. Teach concepts. While it’s helpful to head into kindergarten knowing colors, shapes and numbers, comparative concepts and opposites can help children better understand and communicate what they’re thinking. Work on simple, visible comparisons like bigger, shorter, and under, as well as tangible opposites like wet and dry, or soft and hard.
2. Build cognitive skills. Many parents incorrectly believe that letter knowledge is the foundation to reading. But reading skills are built on phonemic awareness (sound blending and segmenting). In fact, studies show a 90 percent decrease in reading problems if children are first introduced to sound analysis activities.
You can help develop analysis skills by using alphabet blocks to make up nonsense words. Start with two to three blocks, then have the child remove one of the blocks and add a new one while trying to figure out what the new nonsense word sounds like. (Such as “BAB” and then “ZAB.”) If they can’t read, just say the sounds for them, and ask them to try to figure out from hearing the sounds what the new word would sound like when they switch the blocks. Remember, the goal isn’t to teach them letter or word recognition, but rather sounds.
3. Tour the school. Ask the school about orientations that are appropriate for the children and not just the parents. Taking a 5-year-old to a two-hour Q & A with a packed gym won’t leave him excited to return. If possible, set up a private meeting so he can meet the teacher, touch things in the classroom, visit the library ,and even play on the school playground. Consider packing a family lunch to actually eat in the cafeteria and take photos of everything to allow him to share his dry run with a friend, neighbor, or relative.