As you may have noticed, kids are fascinated by everything. They are magnets for learning and new adventures, and this is why educational experts suggest making the most of these impressionable years, especially in the months just prior to kindergarten. If this is the last summer before your child begins kindergarten, we wrote this article for you!
For many kids, this summer will be time for them to get ready for their very first school year. And laying the groundwork for future achievement can and should start early. Studies show that there is a critical period from age four to seven, that serves as a window of opportunity to build and strengthen numeracy and literacy skills.
So, we can agree that early learning is important for a child’s development. But for most parents, in the weeks and months prior to starting kindergarten, it can be hard to gauge if their little one is adequately prepared for school. At Kumon, we’ve been helping prepare young kids for the challenges of school for a long time - so we have some tips to share.
Before kindergarten begins, it’s a good idea to find out the expectations of your school system. Many schools require children to know a lot more than you did at the same stage. Yes, things have changed since you were in kindergarten!
You have spent years nurturing their general knowledge of the world around them, as well as their physical, social, and language development. Now you can start thinking about your child’s approach to learning. Kumon has put together this checklist of a few basic questions to ask yourself:
Can/does you your child…
- Follows simple directions? (will create image of this list)
- Enjoys having books read?
- Go to the washroom independently?
- Play nicely with other children?
- Focus on a task for a period of time?
- Handle learning ‘tools’ such as pencils, crayons, scissors, etc.?
Being able to abide by a set of rules is also an important skill to acquire in the lead up to the highly structure nature of school life. Laying the groundwork before they start school is a great way to help them slip smoothly into this new environment. Don’t hesitate to add guidelines to your child’s day, such as a specific time to:
- Put toys away;
- To pick up a book;
- To do an activity (such as a puzzle);
- To have snacks;
- And to wash up.
When encouraging learning at home, make it fun:
- Start by thinking about the basics such as how your child holds a pencil. For better pencil control, encourage your child to draw, colour, and paint pictures of specific things. “Let’s draw a happy face.” “How about a bear?”
- Encourage number recognition by counting objects, such as all the red cars on the street or the number of crackers on their plate.
- Instill a sense of independence by encouraging your child to do things on their own like a big kid, for example dressing themselves and pouring their own milk.
- Give your child dress-up clothes to encourage role-play games and when you bake sweet treats together, be sure to talk about the weights and measures.
This summer might be the perfect time to get your child’s brain motoring. Try some of these tips, but more importantly, start thinking about how daily activities can be turned into learning opportunities. Pretty soon, your toddler will be teaching you a thing or two!
How do you prepare your kids for the school year? Let us know in the comments below!