Here at ABC Learning Center, teachers are often asked about the skills and knowledge little ones need to have before they head off to kindergarten. Parents and caregivers often expect a numbered list of academic abilities which, of course, will give children a boost in kindergarten. But often, more important are the behavioral skills children need to succeed when they start kindergarten.
Preschoolers who have mastered some basic behaviors are the most ready for kindergarten and when they arrive they also help to make the classroom a more fun and productive place. Think about it, every time a kindergarten teacher or aide has to stop teaching and manage distracting behavior, all the children are disengaged from learning and focused on the disruption.
When you help your child to learn and improve basic behavioral skills, you are positively impacting their education, as well as the other children in the classroom, and enhancing the teacher’s ability to focus her attention of teaching and building relationships with every student.
Here are some areas in which you can help your child prepare for kindergarten:
Though not every child will experience separation anxiety, it is always a good idea to prepare, just in case. The best way to help your child regarding separation is to reassure him or her that you will return for pick up or to meet at the bus stop. Practice quick and encouraging good-byes, “Have a great day!” or “I’ll see you soon!” or “I can’t wait to hear about all the fun you have.” accompanied by a hug. These behaviors from you let your little one know that you trust the teacher and his or her aides and that everything is okay, even while you aren’t there.
In kindergarten, your child will meet an array of adults who they will need to listen to and learn from – teachers, aides, parent helpers, lunch room employees, specialists, and others. If your child is enrolled in preschool, they will learn these skills, but if not, you can teach them by scheduling play dates, so your child is comfortable around other adults. Your preschooler should also be taught to address adults respectfully, like Mr. Jones, Mrs. Smith, or Miss Mary, and to understand there will be adults other than you, the parent, to whom they should listen.
When entering kindergarten, your child should be able to quietly focus for 10 to 15 minutes. The kindergarten teacher will keep things fresh and quick, knowing kindergarteners have short attention spans, but your child will need to sit quietly and still for story time, circle time, and seat work. The library can be a great learning ground for this skill.
A catchall term for self-control and self-help, self-government essentially means your child can govern his or her behavior in a number of new and unique situations which will be encountered in kindergarten. Your little one will need to control impulses including hands, feet, and even the urge to make silly noises when they are bored. You can teach these skills by downplaying the humor in bodily noises and functions, as well as teaching your child about personal space.
Self-helps skills are also important in kindergarten. Your child should be able to put away backpacks, supplies, books, as well as be able to hang up coats, put and zip or button coats, tie shoes, and have no difficulty in attending to his or her own bathroom needs.
The ability to share means both time and attention. Your child should understand they won’t always be the student the teacher selects, that everyone will get an opportunity to participate. The ability to share and take turns in the classroom and on the playground, as well as the ability to get along with fellow classmates is key to success in kindergarten.
At ABC Learning Center, teachers, aides, and school employees understand that every child will have difficulty in one or more of these behaviors at one point or another and they are ready and equipped to work with care with all students to help them achieve kindergarten success.