Preparing to send your child to kindergarten is often harder on you than on your child because of the emotional affects brought on by this rite of passage. However, your child will fare better on his first day of kindergarten and all school year long if you help to prepare him.
The academics in kindergarten may surprise you. Children entering into kindergarten should already know their alphabet and be able to identify all 26 letters. They should also be demonstrating some basic phonemic awareness, meaning they should know the sounds that some letters make. They should also be able to identify numbers through ten and be able to count to at least twenty. Their writing skills should be efficient enough that they can write their first and last name legibly, along with most letters of the alphabet.
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If your child is not enrolled in a preschool prior to starting kindergarten, you may want to consider the option. Children who attend at least one year of preschool prior to kindergarten often fare better than they would without it. In preschool, children are introduced to a structured learning environment and can practice social and academic skills at the most basic level.
At home, you can help prepare your child by reading to her for at least 15 minutes every day. Reading, coupled with basic number skills like counting and adding, will help your child have a stronger foundation to build on during her kindergarten year. Let your child count with objects she can handle, such as cheerios or M&Ms. Work with your child to manipulate the objects into addition examples. These manipulations allow children to build a visual concept of addition, so they can see how 2 + 3 equals 5.
Upon your child's entrance into kindergarten, you will most likely find that he is as ready as he'll ever be, eager to learn and enjoying his new-found freedom. If you feel you've taken steps to prepare him, be at ease that he will find his own way in his own time. If you have concerns after your child has started kindergarten, bring your concerns to the teacher's attention and work together to deal with them accordingly. Most of all, try to relax and be happy for your child, and let her enjoy experiencing the world of education on her own for the first time.