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Early Childhood Education

Five Ways to Help Prepare Your Child for Kindergarten

Photo: Courtesy of Stephen Andrews

Whether or not they’ve attended preschool, there are things families can do at home to help their little learners strengthen the skills they need to be successful from the start.

1. Literacy: Don’t skip story time

When you cuddle up with your kids and a great book, you’re not only capturing their imagination, you’re also causing them to build critical emergent literacy skills. Studies show that story time teaches children how to recognize letters, images and the rhythm of language, all of which set the stage for learning how to read and write in kindergarten.

2. Vocabulary: Use big words

When speaking with your child, it’s second nature to stick to simple words they can sound out, but don’t be afraid to switch it up. Using “big” words you know your child won’t understand at first naturally stretches their vocabulary and helps them eventually better express their own thoughts and ideas.

3. Math: Count it out

Incorporate counting into your child’s daily activities to build their foundation in math. Count the stairs as they walk between rooms; ask them which laundry basket has more clothes in it; or have them pick the smallest piece of fruit. Informal activities like these can teach children how to compare items, group objects and estimate distances.

4. Social-emotional skills: Show and tell  

Making friends takes practice. Guide your child on how to interact with others by rehearsing social situations. Organize opportunities for them to play with other children and join in to show them how fun it can be. You can also use flashcards to teach them how to recognize emotions, encourage them to ask questions and introduce the concept of taking turns.

5. Executive function: Divide and conquer

Help your child find their focus by breaking down activities into smaller tasks. For example, when learning to tie their shoes, concentrate on mastering the first knot before moving on to the next step. It’s also important to eliminate distractions. Take a break if they’re tired, give them a snack if they’re hungry and turn off any gadgets if they’re showing signs of being over stimulated. Fall will be here before you know it. Fill your summer with fun learning activities to ensure a smooth transition to kindergarten.

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