September is looming and there’s so much to do before that big day! Many parents feel anxious about whether their child knows enough to thrive in Kindergarten. If you’ve found yourself wondering whether flashcard drills should be part of your summer holidays this year read on as we de-bunk some myths around kindergarten readiness, and talk about some play based methods to encourage important emerging skills.
The Big Kindergarten Readiness Myth
The biggest myth around starting kindergarten is that children need to enter reading or at the very least able to read and write all the letters of the alphabet. While some children pick up reading early in life others need more time. Studies show that children who are pushed to start reading at an early age are less likely to read for pleasure when they are older than children who waited before learning to read. Teachers expect to teach the alphabet to children in kindergarten and grade one. Most agree that it’s nice if children know a handful of letters like the ones in their own name, but other than that the best way that a parent can work on early literacy skills at home is to read every day with their child. A mixture of fiction and non-fiction books is best because different vocabulary is used and vocabulary building is a big part of literacy. When reading, ask questions like, “What do you think will happen next?” and, “What is happening in this picture?” to engage your child in the story.
The Unspoken Kindergarten Readiness Myth
Rarely is toilet training spoken about at this age, but each year most kindergarten teachers struggle with children who are not able to independently use the bathroom yet. It’s a challenge to supervise a class full of children and help a child through toileting. To help your child develop independent bathroom skills this summer, try to make the process fun. You can sing a song in the living room and your child can sing the same song while going to the bathroom. When he/she comes back to the living room you can see if you are both at the same place in the song.
The Social Kindergarten Readiness Myth
Most parents worry at some time or another that their children will struggle to make friends in school. In most cases children make friends easily, often by the end of day one. It doesn’t hurt however to prepare your child by practicing some of the language that goes in to forming friendships. Role playing with teddies and dolls is a great way to talk it through together. For more practice try Friendship Island from Discovery Toys which is a wonderful discussion tool helping children with the language to build friendships and to solve disputes.
Starting kindergarten is a big deal for children. Expect lots of conflicting feelings to come up for both of you before the big day arrives. Listen lots, cuddle often and enjoy the rest of the summer. School and the daily routine will be back soon and the chances are that everyone will adapt just fine.