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10 Tips to Prepare Preschoolers for Kindergarten

By dadsplay at March 4, 2011 | 1:31 pm | 0 Comment

10 Tips to Prepare Preschoolers for Kindergarten

10 Steps Parents Need to Take to Prepare Preschoolers for Kindergarten Success

One consistent piece of advice Kindergarten teachers give to parents of preschoolers is the importance of introducing kids to a school setting, when possible, to acclimate kids to the social and formal setting of a classroom.  As one retired kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Miller noted, “Children who have not been to preschool or who have not been taught preschool basics, such as writing, cutting, letters, and following directions,  at home, often begin the school year, academically and socially, behind their peers.”

Many parents ask what they should be doing to prepare their child for school.  First, it is important to note that it is the responsibility of parents to prepare their child for school even if the child is attending preschool classes.

In order for children to be prepared for Kindergarten, children should be capable of the following skills.

Strong Communication Skills

Children need to be able to communicate their needs, verbally, in class and also follow the process in order to communicate, such as raising a hand and waiting to be called on.  Children will also have to share in small groups.

Ability to Listen

Children will need to be able to be quiet and listen to the teacher throughout most of the day.  If children have not learned to sit still and listen to directions,  the child will have an adjustment period.

Follow Directions

From the time children are very young, they learn to follow basic directions, but once they reach their preschool years, they will need to be able to listen to several step directions and then follow the steps.  This is a skill that is easily practiced at home and during play.  Following directions will allow children to finish their work, learn the proper steps to doing an activity and how to order things.

Work with Peers

Most Kindergarten classes have time during the day when children will work in small groups or at stations.  As an example, there may be several reading groups in the class and small groups of children may work at the computer station, or on a science activity together.  Kids will need to be able to take turns, speak to other children, and be patient.

Work Independently

Throughout the day, kids will need to work independently to get specific work done.  This will require children to listen, follow directions, and ask questions if they are not sure how to proceed.  They need to be able to write, practice tracing, cut/paste, or even use the computer on their own.

Fine-Motor Skills (pencil grip, cutting skills, picking up small items)

Children will begin using pencils in Kindergarten and will need to be able to cut with scissors, pick up small objects for counting, and begin writing every day in class.  The more practice a child has had cutting, holding a pencil, marker, or crayon, drawing, and picking up small objects, prior to beginning Kindergarten, the stronger his/her fine-motor skills will be for the the increase in writing and fine-motor tasks they will be asked to do each day.

Basic counting

Although counting to 10 or 20 is not required to enter Kindergarten, knowing how to do some basic counting and manipulating of number objects will set a child up to begin the school year more prepared.  A child does not have to know a lot, but some very basic math concepts is a good starting place.

Basic Number and Letter Recognition

Children should be able to recognize all or most of their letters and numbers and write their name.  Those children that know their letters and numbers when they begin Kindergarten will be able to move onto reading much sooner than children that begin the year with no letter or number recognition.  If a child can read prior to kindergarten then he/she will be in a position to advance beyond many other kindergartners.

Basic Life Skills (put on and take off jacket/backpack, zip jacket, put on gloves, hang up items)

Children who go to Kindergarten being able to put away and take on and off their jackets, hats, gloves, and backpacks will be more independent.  Also, if the majority of the class is able to do these basic things, the teacher will have to spend less time on getting kids started in the morning and ready to leave in the afternoon and be able to spend more time on valuable teaching opportunities.

Basic Computer Skills

Today, most classrooms have a handful of computers available for students to use.  Children are beginning to use computers even as toddlers, so children going to Kindergarten with basic mouse skills already have a beneficial skill that will set them up for school success.

One comment I have heard, over and over again, from parents whose children attend strong academic preschools is, “I pay the preschool to teach my child.”  The concern here is to assume that because a child attends preschool he/she does not need additional help and guidance at home.  Preschool can help socialize children, teach them to follow directions, work with other children, and follow the routine of a school day, but it is in the home that children are encouraged to reach, learn, be creative and follow directions on a daily basis.  Parents need to understand just how important their role is in preparing their children for school and learning success.  It is the foundation parents lay down in the early years that will help shape the type of learner and student the child will become.

In an effort to help parents and preschools to prepare preschoolers for kindergarten, the National Kindergarten Readiness Initiative was developed to provide the tools and list the  recommended skills and knowledge preschoolers should be introduced to prior to kindergarten.  You can learn more at NationalKindergartenReadiness.com

by Kristin Fitch at www.NationalKindergartenReadiness.com

Kristin Fitch is co-founder and editor of ZiggityZoom.com and a network of family-oriented websites, including CuriousBaby.com, Mommie911.com and HamptonRoadsParents.com.  Kristin’s first inspirational parenting book, which she co-authored with Sharon Pierce McCullough, Parenting without a Paddle: Navigating the Waters of Parenthood has just been published.

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Letting Your Kids Learn Through Failure

By dadsplay at January 9, 2011 | 9:16 pm | 0 Comment

Letting Your Kids Learn Through Failure

It’s tough being a parent. It’s tough trying to figure out parenthood throughout all of the
different stages our kids go through. Whether it’s helping them to walk, starting school,
discipline issues, driving, or college, we are continually faced with new challenges and
even with multiple children; the same stage has different challenges as each child can
be so different. One aspect that is often overlooked is letting your child fail. I’ve found
this to be an extremely volatile topic for different parents. I knew one parent that did not
allow her seven year old son to cook anything, even with her supervision. I’ve let my six
year old daughter get out a drill to install a shelf. A shelf!! When looking at why each
parent made the choice they did, the common theme was the same…failure.

Cooking mom said she was afraid her daughter would mess up dinner (fail) or get hurt by
the stove or a hot pan. I used a stud finder and verified no electrical wires were anywhere
near the drilling site and showed my daughter how to mark a stud by marking the first
one for her. I felt she would learn more from trying it herself and build her confidence if
she succeeded and she would learn a lot even if she messed it up (failed).

Each parent had very different approaches to thoughts about their child failing. Should
you let your child fail? If so, how do you know when it’s appropriate to let them do so?
As your child goes through life, they WILL fail. You can’t always be there to stop it, but
you can teach them how to prepare to mitigate the failure as well as help them cope with
failure when it does occur. When letting a child fail, the one thing we all must remain
alert to is dangerous situations that can cause serious harm to our children. Bumps and
bruises are part of growing up as evidenced by my youngest daughter who has taken
a long time to learn that you can’t run in one direction while looking in a completely
different direction…

I tried to mitigate the danger (by checking for electrical wiring near the drill site) and
preparing my daughter for success by also showing her how to find the stud for the
second brace. She will still have to learn how to drill straight, make the holes even in the
stud for a level shelf and screw everything into place. My daughter had ‘helped’ me do a
few other projects with the drill and had shown an excellent understanding of the drill, so
I felt she should have a chance to try using it. While she was making the attempt, I had
to step in twice (at her request) to assist, but you should have seen the look on her face
when it was done and the pride she exuded that SHE had done that. From the pure adult
perspective, the shelf was too low to the ground, it wasn’t level and one of the screws
may have missed the stud (or only partially in due to the angle of the screw hole), but it
didn’t matter, even if it’s not perfect, it’s HER success more than anything else. Now
the purist in me asks, why not let her fail by not stepping in, but as long as I don’t step in
ahead of the request from my daughter, I’m allowing her the ‘opportunity’ to fail.

Cooking mom’s concerns, about her son getting hurt, are completely valid. No one
wants to see their child hurt, but the question here becomes how long does your child
need to prove they’re capable of accomplishing a task before we let them attempt the
task on their own? I know to watch out for a burning stove and hot pans, but have still

burnt myself. Odds are her son will get burned at some point in his adult life as well. I
asked her if he had ever helped with the cooking and he had on a number of occasions.
If cooking mom has taught him to be aware of the hot pans and he has shown this
awareness, what’s the harm in letting him fail at cooking dinner? She can be available to
him by staying in the kitchen or nearby, she has a great opportunity to let him succeed,
but also can also help him learn to cope with the failure if he does fail.

None of us like to fail and we certainly don’t want to see our kids fail either, but they
will….just like we do on occasion. You can’t stop failure from happening all the time,
but you can teach your children how to prepare to minimize failure. You can teach them
to be aware of the challenges/dangers of attempting something new and probably most
important, if they do fail, that it’s ok. The world won’t end, the failure doesn’t define
them, most likely they’ll be able to fix whatever went wrong. Your children want to try.
Let them. Encourage them….and if they fail, teach them that it’s ok.

RS Pierce

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