Kindergarten: A Year of Tremendous Growth
Preschool is ending and next year your child’s daily routine will shift in such a big way! New rules, new structure and consequences to their actions are a bit different. No naps, less playtime and new social experiences are just a few of the changes they will see. My son is just ending his Kindergarten year where he went half day. From Preschool to Kindergarten is a huge change and you will watch your child dramatically transform from toddler phase into a child right in front of your eyes this year. There are ways to prepare your child for this year that you may not have considered. If your Kindergartener is your oldest child, then just know one thing-this year they will have social drama and they get so sensitive by their peers actions! If this is not your first round of putting a child through Kindergarten then I know you nodded and relate to that last sentence. I was so worried about the academics and a day without a nap that I never thought about preparing him socially. I want to share my son & I’s experiences with you from this year and what worked for him to manage his Kindergarten drama!
Be an involved parent
If you can, be involved! Get into that classroom. It is your window into your child and creates a special relationship with their teacher that will bring you better insight to how they are coping and managing throughout the year. If you work full-time, perhaps your spouse or parent can sign up to volunteer. Even if just a 1 hour slot a week is all you can give, it helps the teacher and will be a huge experience for you! Let me tell you a story that happened this year that made me completely see my son in a different light just by one experience that happened on a Monday shift I took in his classroom:
Early on this school year, I was helping out in the classroom and l watched him fidget, stare out the window, doodle all while teacher is talking and explaining an assignment. I noticed, she did not correct him (he is not being disturbing, just appears bored). At first, this bothered me that he was ‘misbehaving”. But, the more I watched and paid attention the more I saw something incredible. He is so bored, does not listen to instruction and is drawing pictures and when the assignments are handed out, he finishes first and is 100% correct! How did he get it-he wasn’t even listening? It was by chatting with his teacher I found out that he scored 220 out of the needed 125 of a kindergarten progress test. My son was ready for first grade last September! But, socially he gained so much this year I would never go back and skip him forward early to first grade!
They are so sensitive at this age! Be ready for them to arrive home, half in tears because so-and-so called them a liar or wouldn’t play with him or her today! I was not prepared for my son’s emotions as he trailed his way through this new social life. I immediately knew that I needed to guide him and not make a big deal of things, but listen because he is frustrated and needing to be heard. If I don’t stress, neither will he. Kids get grumpy, they hit but they also learn that behavior like that can lose them friends.
My goal was to just be an adult with my son-I would tell him that it is OK to tell his friends they are being rude or mean and that he doesn’t care to play with them today because of that. I tell him that sometimes his friends may have had to stay up late or had a busy weekend and that when kids get tired, they get grumpy. I knew he could relate to that and I would assure him that his grumpy friend will most likely come to school the next day in a better mood. When children hear that someone doesn’t want to play with them because they are not acting right, you will watch the moody child quickly fix his behavior after time. Their peers will guide them too. It is a non-bossy way of my son letting his peers know that nasty behavior is not going to result in fun games for them. This has worked well for my son and helps him to also not take others actions towards him so seriously!
By the start of Kindergarten, there are a few things they should know how to do! Let me list just a few…
- They should know and write their first and last name
- They should know basic colors
- They should know the numbers 1-10 in sequential order
- They should get the concept of rhyming
- They should be able to use facilities and adjust clothing in a restroom on their own
- They should be able to sit contently for 5-10 minutes
- They should be able to clean up after themselves
- They should know most letter sounds
Take this summer to build their self-worth a bit more. Look at them in the eye as they speak, listen to them. As toddlers, we are so used to anticipating their needs and wants for what we know is best for them and now that your child is becoming older, value their opinions. Give them a task in their daily routine that they want changed and allow the change if appropriate. Throw out that chore chart the’ve had since they were 2 and sit down with them to create a new ‘big girl/boy’ chart.
Read! Read every night. Send them to school as a Kindergartener with a positive attitude and the structure of reading daily. Most likely, this will be a homework task for years to come-to read nightly! 20 minutes is standard a day. Let them sound out words-or at least try. Get books that are not too advanced so you do not discourage them from attempting letter sounds. Take library visits together. This is a great age to find Level 1 chapter or series books. Start that drive of not just looking at books as words they need to know and sound out like it is a chore, but get them excited for ‘what happens next”. They will learn about ‘mental images’ early on the kindergarten year. It is the term used by their teacher to help them make the story come to life in their head as they read. Practice mental images by reading a few lines then asking them what they think will happen next-then read on to see!
There is so much advise to give, but preparing them socially and academically and working with the teacher or even putting yourself inside the classroom will make a huge impact on the experience you and your child will have this year that truly begins to define them as a child!
Learn more tips on my recent post at Parenting Healthy: Children and Education: From Preschool to Kindergarten