There’s a lot of uncertainties about what the school year is going to look like for 2020-21, and it’s leaving parents on edge trying to figure out what their plans will be. Even if you aren’t sure exactly what school may be formatted as in Texas, you still always want your children to be prepared for anything, particularly as kindergarteners.
When you’re getting your child ready for kindergarten, there are certain skills and things they should know, and many of these go beyond academics.
School Bus Safety
If your kindergartner is going to ride the bus, it’s important and potentially even life-saving to teach them safety skills.
For example, there are frequently pedestrian accidents because drivers are distracted and may not see students getting on a bus in front of them.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 129,000 people visited emergency departments in one year in the U.S. because of injuries from pedestrian accidents. An estimated 5,376 pedestrians died as a result of their injuries. Children can be particularly at risk for these types of accidents.
Teach your child the basics, such as stopping away from the curb and waiting for the door to open. Go over with your child how important it is to obey everything the driver says, and always to use the handrail when getting on or off the bus.
Encourage Your Child to Become More Independent
When children are in kindergarten, learning independence and life skills can be as important as academic skills.
You can encourage your child to become more independent by letting him or her dress themselves, learning how to use the bathroom and wash their hands without help, and encouraging them to do simple chores like clearing their plate from the table.
Give your child a little responsibility at home. For example, maybe your child has a weekly responsibility to refill your pet’s food dish or water bowl.
Kindergarten teaches your child about structure and following routines, so get a jumpstart on this at home. Routines are good for young children because they learn what’s expected of them and also what they can expect.
When your child is in school full-time, they will be getting up at the same time each day, getting dressed, and having breakfast, so those are simple things you can start doing now to follow a routine.
While you don’t necessarily have to go too far in teaching academic skills to prepare your child for kindergarten, there are some things that can be helpful in terms of readiness, including:
- Counting to 20
- Recognizing basic shapes like rectangle, square, circle and triangle
- Recognize the numbers 1-10
- Counting ten objects
- Saying the alphabet (or singing it)
- Recognizing the letters of the alphabet even if they’re out of order
- Writing his or first name and recognizing it when written
- Sorting items based on factors like color and shape
- Holding a book
- Identifying if two words rhyme
- Identifying letter sounds
Your child doesn’t necessarily have to be reading before kindergarten, and it’s pretty common that they aren’t, but doing nursery rhymes can be really helpful because rhyming helps kids learn to read.
Other things to help your child practice before kindergarten include:
- Putting on his or her coat and zipping
- Tying their shoes
- Taking turns
- Sitting and listening quietly
- Following basic instructions
- Using the bathroom alone
- Holding a pencil
- Cutting with child safety scissors
- Hanging a backpack on a hook
- Standing in line
- Coughing into his or her elbow
- Opening food containers that you put in their lunch
Finally, there are a few other things you can do.
First, work with your child to help them understand being kind and working well with others. Before kindergarten, your child should have an understanding of how to respect other people, as well as respecting rules and property.
You can work with your child to see if they can do tasks without interrupting and while taking turns.
Read with your child as often as you can, even if they don’t yet know how to read on their own.
If there are opportunities that arise for your child to be away from home and your immediate family, take advantage.
Again, many of us are feeling apprehensive and uncertain about what the upcoming school year will bring because of the COVID-19 situation, but you can still go over the above and prepare your child for whatever may come all of our way the best you can.