6 Things You Should Teach Your Toddler Before Kindergarten
The First Day of Kindergarten Blues
The thought of letting your baby go out into the world unsupervised by you is heart wrenching, and many parents experience the kindergarten blues. There’s not much that helps, but knowing your child is ready for what lies ahead makes it a wee-bit easier. Take a moment to look through the things a child should know before kindergarten so you can start teaching your little one today.
Why is Kindergarten Hard for Some Kids?
These young children go from the comfort of their home, where their only worry is what to play with next, to being without their parents and told what to do by a stranger. That’s scary at any age.
When you consider how many of these kids do not have socialexperience yet, it’s easy to understand how they could become overwhelmed. They watch other children behave in ways they had not even thought of and want to try it too. Unfortunately, these behaviors are not always good ones,
Children who have been in daycare might have an easier time because they’re used to the routine. They know what’s expected from them.
How Can I Help My Child Get Ready for Kindergarten?
Children enter kindergarten at various levels. Some children are ahead of their peers while others lack the most basic of skills. When a child cannot complete a task that the rest of the class can do their peers may tease them. This results in feelings of inadequacy, and can make them give up trying.
You can help your child avoid this by teaching the skills below. All children learn at a different pace, so don’t get discouraged if your child does not understand right away. Just continue practicing and spending quality time with them, they will get it. Below is a list of the primary skills all kindergarteners should know—or have a basic understanding of—before entering school.
Teach Children to Love Learning
Fostering a love for learning is not only helpful for their time in kindergarten but for everyday life. Children are naturally curious and learn through exploration and discovery. We can help encourage this with:
- games that promote problem solving movies or educational shows where curiosity is highlighted
- allowing them to safely explore different places
- observing what peaks their interest and making it available to explore
- books that teach how things work
- acting excited to learn new things too
- asking questions to promote thoughtfulness
Remember that this is something that they will carry throughout their academic life. When children are not allowed to nurture their curiosity, they may lose it.
Teach Impulse Control and Routine
Kindergarten isn’t boot camp, but there are certain expectations put on the children. Self control is one of the most important expectation. Being able to listen to directions when you would rather play with the potato-head doll is crucial.
If a child cannot control their impulses, they will engage in behavior that may be seen as disorderly. You can help your child by teaching them these important skills early in life:
- how to follow a routine—bedtime, bath time, etc
- how to manage impulses
- to adapt when they don’t get their way
- understanding the importance of behaving
- to make compromises
Teach Your Children To Care About Others
Empathy, sympathy, and a general care for other people can be a learned behavior to some extent. When children are not exposed to those types of emotions growing up, or they’re taught not to show them, it detrimentally influences their social skills.
Even if you’re not an overly loving individual, try to teach your child to be.
Children who grow up in emotionally guarded homes tend to be more withdrawn from their peers. On the other hand, children who are put on pedestals might judge others and push them away. Teaching good social skills starts with teaching children how to “care” about other people.
Teach Kids How To Express Themselves
Imagine being in a new environment with people you don’t know and needing to go to the bathroom. Now imagine you don’t understand where it is, or if you’re even allowed to go, but you don’t know how to express that to the person in charge. That would be terrifying, right?
Sadly, this is a real scenario for many kindergartners. They don’t know how to ask for or express their needs. Eventually, this will cause a child to dread school. Children who can walk into school knowing how to get their needs met, stand up for themselves, and make friends, will do much better in this social setting.
One of the easiest ways to teach a child how to express themselves is to listen when they try to. So many people brush children off—not always intentionally—because they’re busy, but when we do this, it sends the message that what they have to say is not important enough to hear. If they believe this, they’ll stop trying and find other ways to get what they need. We might understand that our child is thirsty when they smack their lips, but would a teacher?
Teach Bathroom Hygiene Habits Early
For obvious reasons, children must know how to use the bathroom by themselves before going to school. This extends beyond just using the potty. They should know how to re-dress themselves, wipe thoroughly, and wash their hands. Sometimes when we teach our children to use the potty, we get wrapped up in their success and forget to teach the other bathroom habits.
It’s extremely important that children learn good hygiene before going to school because they’re exposed to so many germs already, and improper hygiene will spread these germs faster among the class. They should know how to share, but maybe not germs.
Teach Fine Motor Skills
Some gross motor skills come naturally to us because we almost instinctively know we should be doing them. Fine motor skills need to be practiced and cannot be learned without hands on experience. When a child enters kindergarten, they should have some control over most of their fine motor skills. They should be able to:
- use scissors
- glue things together
- feed themselves with little mess
- use buttons and zippers
- put small objects into holes or slots
- pick up tiny things
- put stickers in outlines areas
- color and draw without just scribbling
- maneuver objects with their hands
- use a glass or cup
Kids learn through play and exploration. Simply trying to pound the lesson into their heads will never work. If you don’t allow them the practice needed to do it themselves, they will never fully comprehend the task.
© 2018 Meagan Ireland