Getting your child ready for kindergarten (or any grade!) is easier than you think! You don’t need a degree in Education to educate your child! I wanted to give you a list of quick, easy, everyday activities you can do with your child to help build their skills, and prepare them for the thinking and learning they will experience at school. (Some of you may already be doing all of these things without even knowing what an impact you are making!)
- Read TO your child daily! (Need some suggestions? 100 Picture Books OR 100 Chapter Books)
- Read WITH your child! Find books with repetitive phrases, predictable text (such as rhymes), or books based on popular children’s songs, etc. that he/she can join in with as you read.
- Reading BY your child daily! Your child should have time “reading” LONG before he/she can actually decode the words on the page! (More on early reading later…) Have your child look at books, tell the story using the pictures, etc. My kids have always had “quiet reading” as part of their night-time bed routine.
2. Justify Your Answer!
- When your child states that he/she likes something, feels a certain way, wants to do something, etc. ask them WHY, and make them tell you! (“Just because,” is NOT an answer!) Get your child in the practice of backing up their idea with reasoning, opinion, facts, etc. This is as simple as asking a few prompting questions, such as, “Why do you feel that way? What makes you think that? Why do you like that ? etc.
3. Ask Questions!
- Turn the tables and ask your child questions….about everything! Answering questions helps children employ critical thinking, reasoning, develop opinions and ideas, add detail, increase their speech, etc.
- Teach children to WONDER. Model this aloud for them…and often! Say things like, “I wonder why the squirrels are up in that tree. I wonder what we will do at Susie’s party. I wonder what will happen next in the story. Etc. Wondering is helping children realize that learning is ACTIVE. When we engage the mind with activities like wondering, we are constantly learning, thinking, creating new ideas, etc. Help their brains never be idle.
- Drawing is one of the first pathways to reading/writing. As you draw with your child (with many mediums!) talk about their picture. Ask what they are drawing and why. See if they can add more detail. Have them tell a story about their picture. Teach them that their drawings represent IDEAS. Write down their thoughts. Label their pictures. Have them “write” about their picture, even if they are just scribbling.
- Getting your child into the kitchen with you is a wonderful way to teach early math skills. Cooking also helps develop fine motor skills, as your child learns to pour, stir, mix, and measure. (Plus, it’s fun!)
- Talk to your children the same way you’d speak to a grown-up. Never “dumb-down” your speech. Use big words! (They’ll ask you what they mean!) Provide opportunities for them to learn new contexts in which to use words, learn new vocabulary, and expand their thought process. Put up with their questions, talk about their interests, and LISTEN when they say something.
- It’s really all you need to do. Play, play, play! As you play with your child, you are opening up their imagination, providing new experiences, new thoughts, and empowering their creativity. The world is truly a blank canvas when you pretend with a child. Help them learn that the world is a place where any idea can be made possible.
Enjoy each moment with your child, as you create everyday learning opportunities together!