How to Help Your Child be Successful in Kindergarten By Tina O’Block
Your child’s first year of school should be a fun and exciting time. Children who are comfortable with and prepared for this first school experience are more likely to have rewarding and productive years, and therefore associate positive feelings with education. Since parents are children’s first and most important teachers, you can play a key role in preparing your children for a successful school experience by pre-exposing them to key concepts they will experience in school. This can be done in a fun, enjoyable manner by making everyday play experiences learning experiences as well.
New learning builds on prior knowledge, therefore more exposure or background a child has with a concept easier it is for new learning and deeper comprehension to occur. Providing your child with pre-exposure to concepts such as alphabet, numbers, following directions, listening, reading, cutting, tracing, etc. will help them feel more comfortable and confident when they experience these similar concepts in school, thus better enabling learning to occur. Schools are becoming more academic, dependent on standardized tests, and fast-paced. Giving your children some familiarity with concepts they will encounter can help lessen anxiety and stress that often accompany these experiences. Children who are overly stressed or uncomfortable are less likely to be able to concentrate and learn.
Children have a natural motivation to learn and a curiosity about world. You can enhance and nurture this natural motivation by making enjoyable play experiences learning experiences as well.
For example, children’s games are great resources for combining learning with physical activity. Duck, Duck, Goose can be a way of reinforcing concepts such as alphabet by having children say name of a letter in place of word, duck, and a word that begins with that letter in place of word, goose.
Hide and Seek can become a learning experience by hiding numbers, letters, colors, your child’s name, phone number, address, etc. around house and asking your child to find them.
Simon Says is a great game to practice following directions and positional words such as on, above, below, etc.
Bingo can be used to reinforce number recognition, letter recognition, difference between upper case and lower case letters, letter sounds, colors, etc.
You can have a treasure hunt while shopping, driving, or at home by seeing how many letters, numbers, colors, or shapes your child can find.
You can also play I Spy where you state, “I spy with my little eye something that is…” and you describe a letter, number, shape, color, etc. that you can plainly see. Your child then tries to guess what you are describing. Your child can also take a turn describing something (this helps develop verbal skills).
Children’s individual interests can also be incorporated into learning experiences.
Blocks or Lego’s can be used to teach patterns (have them build towers with alternating colors), counting, sorting (separate blocks by colors, shapes, size), etc.
If your child likes to color, have them create rainbow tracings of letters or numbers by tracing them with as many colors as possible.
Play dough can be made into shapes, letters, and numbers.
An interest in cars and trucks can be used when learning how to trace by telling your child to keep his car (crayon or pencil) on road (whatever is being traced).