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Teachers weigh in: What kindergarten kids should know

Newlywed, new mom and first-time home buyer, Sarah is currently playing out her exciting life in Phoenix, Arizona. She recently gave up her job in finance to stay at home with her baby girl, who between bath time and feeding time, keeps ...

Preparing for kindergarten

Ever wonder how you could best prepare your little one for kindergarten? We asked teachers to share specifically what kindergarteners should know.

Mom bringing kindergartener to school

There’s not just one simple factor that determines whether or not your child is ready to start kindergarten. Most schools require kids to turn five before Sept. 1 (this date can vary), but some schools allow kids to test into kindergarten if they are particularly advanced. Little ones need to be prepared, not only educationally, but physically and socially as well. We talked to real teachers to get their input on preparing kids for kindergarten.

What should kindergarteners know educationally?

Yolanda Coleman, a former elementary school teacher and the founder and president of Team Tutor, states that students entering kindergarten should be able to recognize their name, recite the alphabet, hold a book correctly and know how to read from left to right. They should have some knowledge of letter sounds and the corresponding letters.

  • For writing readiness: Students should be able to draw basic shapes as well as a self-portrait.
  • For fine motor readiness: Students should be able to cut with scissors; button shirts, pants and coats; and be able to hold a pencil correctly.
  • For math readiness: Students should recognize numbers zero through 10 and be able to recite numbers zero through 20.

How can parents help best prepare kindergarteners?

To best prepare kids for kindergarten, Coleman suggests reading to them daily and giving them ample writing practice. Let them practice writing their name and practice inventive spelling with their drawings. "Inventive spelling" is when kids sound out the words and write the letters that they hear in the words.

Coleman also stresses the importance of allowing your kids to be more independent when doing tasks such as tying their shoes, buttoning their shirts and putting on their coats. These small tasks allow children to feel successful with their own accomplishments and make them excited to try new things.

Other tips on entering kindergarten

Babycenter stresses the importance of kids entering kindergarten being able to speak clearly and interact well with other children and adults. If you’re not sure yourself, talk to your child’s doctor regarding their physical and developmental readiness for kindergarten.

Establish a good bedtime routine. Most kindergarteners need to go to bed about an hour earlier than usual. Their days are busier and evenings may be spent doing homework or other school-related tasks. Push back their bedtime a few weeks before school starts to allow for proper adjustment.

Don’t over-schedule. Getting used to going to school every day is an adjustment for everyone. Clear out the first few weeks of your agenda and try to focus on school and your new routine as much as possible. Once your child gets adjusted, feel free to slowly add activities and social events.

Be excited for your little one! If you seem anxious, nervous or scared that your child isn’t ready, they will know. Kindergarten is a big step for both you and your child; try your best to be excited and encourage them to ask questions. Another great tip is to share your own experience and talk about all the positives that come with starting school.

Tell us

What are your best tips for preparing your child to enter kindergarten? Share in the comments below!

More on preparing for school

Prepare your kids for the back-to-school routine
4 Preschool skills needed for kindergarten success
Kindergarten freak out

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