Are you a parent who is getting your little one ready to start school for the first time? Do you want to make sure your child is prepared for kindergarten but you’re feeling a little unprepared yourself? Take a deep breath, I’m happy to help! Now that I’ve gone through it twice, and it’s still relatively fresh on my brain — my son is about to enter grade 2 and my daughter senior kindergarten — I’d like to share some words of wisdom that might help make this new phase in your child’s life a little easier for you both.
Let’s Start With the Basics
Two very important basic skills you can begin practicing with your kid, if you haven’t already, is the alphabet and counting to 20. Repetition is key for children learning at this age; singing the alphabet song together and counting out loud is easy to do since you can do this anywhere. Visuals are also helpful, and there are a variety of ways you can provide this to your child. Both of my kids loved playing with alphabet magnets on the fridge, or on our double-sided easel, which we also used for writing out letters and numbers on the dry-erase board or the chalkboard. When you are also practicing the alphabet with your kid, take the opportunity to help them learn how to spell their name as they will need to know how to recognize it in their classroom.
Useful Books & Flashcards
My favourite way to help teach my kids is through books. I particularly liked using this Scholastic Alphabet Wipe-Clean Workbook and this Wipe-Clean Numbers Workbook with my son and daughter, not only to help them recognize letters and numbers but also to get them practicing writing them. Both books have pages the child can trace over the letters and numbers, and since it’s wipeable they can repeat the process as much as they like.
Kindergarten is when children get their introduction to independent reading. Teachers will use sight words to get the students recognizing common words and identifying them. Flashcards are a great way to practice this at home with your child. For both of my kids, they would get words of the week that would be taught in the classroom and each week the list was included in their agenda book. We would put the appropriate flashcards on the wall to provide that visual for continued learning at home. Scholastic also has some great book sets to help with sight words and pre-reading skills with their Bob Books sets.
First Day of School Jitters
If your child is feeling scared or nervous about starting school there are some great story books you can read together that can help calm them down (and you too!) I especially love The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. It features a cute little raccoon named Chester and is the sweetest little story. Both of my kids were introduced to this book when they started kindergarten and loved it. Another good one is Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney. With its loveable character and rhymes, this tale helps children understand that starting this new chapter in life can be fun even if you’re nervous or scared.
Another way to help your child if they are nervous is to get them involved in the back-to-school shopping process. Let them pick out their new backpack, lunch bag, and water bottle. I really love the collection from Skip Hop. They have brightly coloured items, with fun patterns and adorable characters, plus you can find everything your child will need, from backpacks to lunch boxes, water bottles to stainless steel food containers. Your kid will love showing off their new school gear! But don’t forget to label everything with their name on it, because there is bound to be another child in class who has the same stuff as your kid.
Have any other tips to add? Want to share something that worked for you? Comment below!