Kindergarten Readiness. As a Kindergarten teacher I get asked about Kindergarten Readiness all the time. As it turns out, if a Mama has a little one approaching school age, and you mention you teach Kindergarten, there is only one thing they really want to know.
What does my child need to know for Kindergarten?
And then sometimes gossipy stuff about certain teachers …
Well, my answer might surprise you. To the first question I mean. But it is based on solid research and experience.
Do kids need to know their ABC’s before starting school? Upper and lowercase? Must they print their names? Do they need to know how to count to 20?
None of it. Those things they do not NEED to know when starting school. By all means if they are ready to learn these things, and have an interest in learning these things before starting Kindergarten, wonderful. And you will find loads of ideas on this blog about activities to do with these topics. But none of it is really needed.
For a child to truly have Kindergarten readiness, parents and caregivers need to provide 3 things. (Of course I am referring only education wise … food, shelter, love, and cookies are a given)
Reading, talking, and time to explore.
Read. When you don’t know what to do to get your little one ready for school, simply pick up a book. Rhyming, poems, picture, fiction, non-fiction, anything at all. Read a new book. Read a classic. Read the book your little one hands to you, even if it is the 20th time you’ve read that book and you feel like your head might fall off if you read it again. It won’t, just read. And if it does, well then you won’t have to read it the 21st time.
Talk. Talk with you little one about the world all around them. Talk about big things and ideas. Talk about little things. Talk about the weather, bugs, and the baby. Talk about dragons, dinosaurs, and dandelions. Talk using big words and long sentences and little words too. Make up silly songs and poems. Let them ask 2500 questions a day, and more when they are two. Talk and also listen.
Time to Explore. Little ones need to experience things first hand. They need time to play. Loads of it. They need to see, touch, smell, and explore as much as possible before starting school. Go to a farm and a fire hall. Pet a lamb and a fire truck. Go into the woods, or the backyard, or on the balcony. Watch for birds and critters. Let them touch trees, mud, rocks, and sand. Let them explore paint, beans, rice, pouring, and mixing. Let them experience first hand everything they will learn and read about.
Playing inside is important, yes. Though it seems to me more and more little ones are spending more and more time inside. So I thought I would give some suggestions for playful experiences outside.
Exploring the natural world is incredibly important. The air we breathe and the food we eat both depend on the next generation getting to know and care about nature. Science, math, and literacy all develop while outside playing.
So, what does your child need to know before starting school? Here is How Wee Learn Naturally:
5 Ways to Develop Language Outside. Want a little more information on HOW to talk to little ones? This post is all about how to develop language, and create a “rich” language environment (very, very simply)
Explore the 5 senses. This post is all about how we explored each of the five senses while playing outside.
Sewing and creating with leaves, like with this Leaf Crown, develops fine motor skills and a pincer grip too – important for future writing.
This leaf-y jack-o-lantern is a fun way to practice some sorting and colours.
Create a nature chain, or decorate a summer time Christmas tree.
Make some big wooden blocks. Playing with these are great for working on big muscles and amazing for letting little ones try out really big building ideas.
Collect some treasures (and learn about what sticks and what doesn’t) with this nifty nature belt. And use the word nifty.
Create some amazing art with this wonderful DIY Outdoor Art Easel.
Let the little engineers build some incredible forts and dens with sticks.
Bring some playdough outside to learn about textures and impressions.
Rainy day? Perfect time to set up a little mud kitchen
Plant some seeds and make things grow.
Find out how a birds nest is made, and let your little ones try to recreate one.
While little ones smash some snowballs, they are also learning about colour mixing.
Paint some snow, or rocks, or sticks.
Most importantly though, is simply free play outside.
Let them run and explore all on their own. I created this poster a year ago, and think it sums up my view quite nicely.
All the while playing and exploring, little ones are developing the skills they will need for school.
So let them explore, play, and learn naturally. They will be all the smarter, stronger, and healthier because of it.
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