Ready for kindergarten?

For first-time parents of a soon-to-be kindergartener, the anxiety can be intense

Kathleen Karpuk School District 73 Trustee.

Kathleen Karpuk School District 73 Trustee.

By Kathleen Karpuk

Kindergarten can be an anxious time for parents.

There are those common worries. Is my child ready? Will they make friends? Will they like their teacher? For first-time parents of a soon-to-be kindergartener, the anxiety can be intense.

Here is a simple list of things families and children can benefit from as they prepare for kindergarten.

• How to play with others: Group play and co-operation are important skills. Sharing toys and being able to takes turns is a foundational skill that children use to build relationships and make friends. In higher grades, these skills lead to collaboration and team building. Play dates and other group activities are a great way for children to learn.

• How to hold a crayon, use scissors and glue: Children should be using a pincher grip with their thumb and first two fingers, not a fist. This is very important as it can impact their ability to learn to print and write. Children should be encouraged to spend time every day colouring and drawing.  Squiggles, lines, circles and other shapes help with printing and writing later. Cutting out shapes and gluing things together encourage creativity.

• How to stack, sort and thread beads: Children should be able to balance several blocks in a stack and sort items by colour or shape. They should be able to thread beads onto a string and make a pattern.

• How to do up buttons, zippers and laces: Twenty sets of coats and shoes can take a lot of time to do up, so being able to get ready by themselves means your child has more time to play. Let your child take the time to learn do up their own coat and shoes.

• How to sit and listen: Kindergarteners are very active kids and their classrooms can be pretty noisy. Being able to sit still and listen to a story their teacher or a classmate is sharing is a skill that kids need. Children should be read to every day and encouraged to sit and look at books they find interesting.

How to run, jump, hop, catch and throw: Kids need one to two hours every day of active play. Tag, going on walks, throwing a ball, climbing playground equipment, crawling through tubes and tunnels are all great activities for getting kids active.

Going to the pool, being in a sports program or just being allowed to run around in the back yard allows children to develop large motor skills and balance.

• How to tell stories and talk to others: Being able to speak in full sentences and tell others about what’s happening is a great communication skill. Children should be encouraged to use descriptive words to describe what’s around them and practise having conversations with others.

• How to play quietly by themselves: Independent quiet time and playtime is important, too. Kids should be able to play quietly by themselves for 20 to 30 minutes.

• How to go to the bathroom and wash their hands: Hygiene is very important in kindergarten. Much of the time is spent using and sharing toys and objects and this can lead to germs spreading.

Practising washing hands well, how to cough into an elbow and recognizing when they need to go to the bathroom are important.

• Practise knowing their full name, phone number and address: Children should be able to say their first and last name, should practise reciting their phone number and home address. They should be able to recognize their first name printed on a piece of paper.

• Be able to count to 10 and have interest in knowing the alphabet: Kids should be able to use their fingers to count to 10. They may be starting to write out some letters or know the alphabet song. Kindergarten is all about learning numbers and the alphabet so don’t worry if they haven’t got it memorized, they’ll know it by the end of the school year.

If you have any concerns about kindergarten readiness, contact your local health unit. Staff there will be able to provide you with the resources and information that you need.

Kathleen Karpuk; kkarpuk@sd73.bc.ca

Article courtesy of Kamloops This Week.