Each child grows and learns at their own pace, but parents and caregivers can play a role in helping them reach developmental benchmarks for kindergarten. For many children, kindergarten may be their first real experience with school. When a child is equipped with knowledge and skills before entering kindergarten, it can boost their confidence, excitement, and ability to thrive and learn. So, what type of skills should children entering kindergarten aim to have? Here they are and tips to help improve them!
Letter & Sound Recognition
By the time a child enters kindergarten, it’s beneficial if they already know that letters and sounds are related. Parent may help children improve letter recognition and sound recognition by playing games. For letter recognition, work with magnetic letters that children may play on the fridge or a magnet board. Encourage singing the ABCs together and have them try to put the letter magnets in proper order as they sing.
For sound recognition, play games like holding up a letter magnet and then saying it’s sound. Ask the child if they can find other items in the room that make that letter sound. Repeating these types of games will help the child improve their letter and sound recognition skills.
Number Recognition & Counting
When it comes to numbers, children entering kindergarten should recognize the numbers from 1-10. The ability to count to 20 will also put the child in a good position for learning. Encourage children to count and call out numbers that they see throughout the day.
For example, at home children can count the number of socks while doing laundry or the number of cookies on their plate. When outside walking or playing, ask the child to read house numbers and street signs with numbers on them.
A child’s ability to recognize and read letters will help them succeed in writing. Writing also takes fine motor skills, so regular practice is encouraged. Teach children how to properly grip their writing tool (pencil or crayon). By the time they enter kindergarten, they should be writing their own name using the proper upper- and lower-case letters. Writing practice can be fun too when done in the sand or with fingerpaint.
Colors and Shapes
Children entering kindergarten should also know the basic colors and shapes. Learning and practising these concepts is easy with fun activities. Using food and baking are great means to learning colors and shapes. Apply food coloring to mixtures to help children learn about colors and ask them what color certain ingredients are. Learn shapes through food too! Cookie cutters are also useful while baking to help children learn about shapes.
Basics to Reading
While many children pick up reading at different paces, children entering kindergarten should be at least introduced to the concept of reading. Read together with children as much as possible. Help them learn how to read. They should understand that each book will have a cover and that books need to be held upright to read. Reading also occurs from left to right from the top of the page to the bottom of the page.
Encourage them to use their fingers when reading so that they can easily follow along the text in the book. Reading together also teaches children to learn to listen, which is an important skill in the classroom.
Children may also be prepared for the first day of kindergarten with school preparedness books like The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn or Kindergarten, Here I Come! by D.J. Steinbergy. The earlier you catch any learning or literacy difficulties, the more effective training remedies like Orton Gillingham Training will be at helping your child learn to read.
Don’t worry if your child is entering kindergarten without all these skills perfected. It will be practised throughout the school year. What’s important is that you encourage your child to enjoy learning and begin introducing these concepts in advance. The tips offered here should help parents and caregivers get started!