by Melinda LaMont, literacy facilitator, Cache County School District
As educators, we recognize what an important role parents and families play when it comes to preparing students for kindergarten. Parents often ask, “How can I help my child develop the skills they need to be successful in school?” Here are five things you can do to help prepare your child for success in kindergarten:
1. Read to your child daily. Reading to your child will help them develop language skills and increase their desire to learn how to read. Use a variety of books, including picture books, non-fiction, poetry, magazines, etc. Talk about the story as you read it, encouraging your child to ask questions and discuss how they feel and what they have learned. The most important thing you can do for your child to prepare them for learning is to read to them 20 minutes or more every day.
2. Develop fine motor skills. Fine motor skills play an important role in helping your child to function as a writer in kindergarten. Allow your children access to tools that will help, develop motor skills (pencils, pens, crayons, scissors, glue, etc.). Drawing, coloring, cutting and writing are important skills that require practice before coming to kindergarten. It is also helpful to have your child know how to write his or her name when they come to kindergarten.
3. Build letter knowledge. Although we don’t expect students to come to kindergarten knowing how to read, it is helpful for them to be familiar with letters and letter names. When helping your child learn letters, start with the letters in his or her name and keep practice sessions short and playful. Building letters out of dough or blocks, finding them around the house or town, tracing them and writing them are all good ways to help children become familiar with letters. Once your child is comfortable with letter names, you can help them learn the letter sounds.
4. Introduce numbers and early math skills. Your home is a great place to begin exploring mathematics with your child. Incorporate math skills into your daily routine to help them see how math works in everyday life and to develop number sense. There are many games and activities that will help develop math skills. Help your child recognize numbers and where they are in the environment. Students should know the following before kindergarten:
- Counting from one to 10
- Recognizing the numbers zero to 10
- Counting sets of objects up to 10 (one-to-one correspondence)
- Spatial relationships (over, under, up, down, in, on, above, below)
- Familiar with shapes and names of shapes (circle, square, triangle, rectangle)
- Familiar with colors and color names
- Compare items (same, different, bigger, smaller, longer, shorter)
- Sort objects by color, size and shape
5. Increase vocabulary and oral language skills. Talking to and with your child is important in developing communication skills. Talking to them throughout the day as well as reading books and talking about it will help develop these skills. Look for opportunities to introduce your child to many vocabulary terms and different ways to say things. For example, say “time to tidy up the room” instead of “pick up your toys.”
For more information on helping your child prepare for kindergarten, visit www.cachedistrictliteracy.org. A link for “Time Together” can also be found here, which provides workshops and materials for parents of children preparing for kindergarten at participating schools (Canyon, Lewiston, Lincoln, Park and Summit).
Should I keep my child home another year?
Our schools are often asked by parents if they should keep their child home another year, especially if they are young. Though it can be an advantage to be older, Cache District willingly accepts ALL students who meet the deadline, and will make every effort to meet their needs wherever they are academically. Feel free to discuss your concerns about readiness with your local school upon registration.
When is registration?
All Cache County School District elementary schools will be registering students Wednesday, March 16 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Thursday, March 17 from 12-7 p.m. Students must turn 5 years old on or before Sept. 1 to register. Please bring your child for a short screening as well as a birth certificate, immunization record, utility bill and mortgage or rental statement (proof of address).
Logan School District kindergarten registration will be Tuesday, April 12 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 13 from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Thursday, April 14 from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Registration will take place at Bridger Elementary School. Students do not need to attend. Similar paperwork is needed. For more information, visit www.loganschools.org/kindergarten-registration/.