As your baby turns into a toddler and then your toddler nears kindergarten, it can evoke a lot of emotion. Bottles and diapers are replaced by skinned knees and adventures. It seems like overnight, your sweet baby looks like a full-on kid. You researched and found the best ways to keep your baby happy, healthy, and growing. Now it’s time to prep your budding 5-year-old for kindergarten.
You can do many learning activities to help get your kids ready for kindergarten. Many of them take a few minutes a day, too, and are so crucial for their development. From a schedule to reading and learning kindness, these activities are easy for your 4-going-on-5-year-old to grasp. Keep reading to learn more ways of helping your child prep for school. There’s even a bonus tip for big emotions about the transition for you and your kiddo both.
1. Getting on a Schedule
When school starts, your child will have to get up at the same time and get ready Monday through Friday. Many fights and tears are shed in the morning trying to get out the door. Start the practice early and get on a schedule so it’s not a surprise when school starts. Set a consistent bedtime and a routine each night. For example, take a bath, brush your teeth, get in jammies, read, and go to bed at 8 p.m. each night.
2. Practicing Letters, Numbers, and Words
Working with your child on education activities sets them up for success in the classroom. It gives them a headstart in recognizing some key elements they will be exposed to in kindergarten. Practice counting and recognizing numbers. Practice letters and sight words. Use flashcards or a chalkboard and easel at home. You can even start by writing their name so they know that word first.
3. Reading Every Day
Since you’re already working on a daily schedule, add reading to the list. Reading every day is actually one of the most important things you can do by way of a learning activity. It helps foster a love of reading through connection because you’re modeling as something you do and enjoy. Hearing stories, looking at the words, and seeing the corresponding pictures strengthens your child’s language and literacy skills as well. Stories can also help kids learn appropriate behaviors for different situations through their favorite characters.
4. Identifying Colors
Part of your kid’s early childhood development is being able to identify colors. Start by casually identifying colors in normal conversation with your kid. It can be as simple as phrases like, ‘Do you want to wear your purple or yellow shoes today?’ As you hold them up, your child can point to them. They will start to associate the color with the object. You can do this with many things in their environment.
5. Working on Puzzles and Blocks
Turn off the tablet, limit screens, and get the kids working on tactile fun. Puzzles, building blocks, and even legos help your child build their logic skills. They learn through trial and error how the pieces go together. Shape sorter blocks, and puzzles help your child begin to learn shapes and also help with spatial awareness. Help them identify their names while you play too.
6. Learning Emotional Regulation
Help your littles learn emotional regulation. This is a skill that is largely modeled as well, so work on your own emotional regulation as well. Help them work on using healthy coping strategies for big feelings. You can teach them how to talk about their feelings and show them their feelings are valid. Work on empathy and how to treat others with kindness as well.
7. Gaining Independence
Part of going to kindergarten is becoming a big kid. They are doing more and more things on their own apart from you. Work with them on gaining independence. Empowering them to feed themselves at lunch and use the bathroom by themselves is a start. Trusting them with more chores will help bolster their confidence for school too.
8. Developing Self-Care Skills
As with gaining independence, working with your kids on developing self-care skills and healthy habits. Good hygiene is part of this. Two big things are washing your hands after going to the bathroom and not picking your nose. Covering your mouth when you cough is also important. As part of their routine, brushing their teeth and learning to take a bath by themselves are also good skills.
9. Taking Responsibility
Learning how to take responsibility is a huge life skill. In fact, it’s one that keeps building throughout life. If your child gets in trouble, teach them how to own up to their mistake. Responsibility extends beyond that too; teach them they are responsible for their actions and words. Being kind and doing what you say you will do are too big things littles can work on. They can also be responsible for their things and keep track of their own shoes and backpacks.
10. Knowing Your Phone Number
One way to set your child up for success is to make sure they know mommy and daddy’s real names. In case of emergency, knowing their own name and their parents can be helpful to those in charge. Work with them on memorizing one of your phone numbers as well. That way, they can tell a trusted adult should they need to contact you. You can also put your contact information and name inside the backpack as well for extra help. Let them know it’s there should a teacher or bus driver need it too.
11. Recognizing and Naming Body Parts
As a parent, you never want to think about harm coming to your children. A little bit of prevention can help in potentially nefarious situations, though. Teach your children the proper names for their body parts to help tell you when something hurts. This is important when they cry after falling off the swing. And it’s also important when establishing boundaries on body parts and appropriate touch.
12. Acknowledging Change
Change is hard for little people and big people alike. Don’t just whisk your child off to school and tell them it’s all fine. They might have big feelings about the change — excitement, fear, and sadness are all valid things to feel. Let them know you are also having big feelings about your baby getting bigger. Seeing mommy and daddy have multiple feelings at once and process the changes helps them know how to as well.
As your big kindergartner stands in front of you, flashes of them as a baby likely flood your brain. The old adage, the days are long, but the years are short, is so true. Take advantage of the time you have before school starts to set them up for success. Even if your kiddo is starting school in the fall, you can start working on the skills in this article. And if your child is a toddler, you can start now.
After all, there’s no such thing as too much learning. Make these activities a priority. Most of them take a few minutes a day and can make a huge shift in their development and maturity. Help your child start school on the right foot. The school wants your child to be happy and healthy and keep growing and learning just like you do.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Alexander Dummer; Pexels; Thank you!
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