Kindergarten, the big foray into your child’s formal education! Whether you have kept your child at home up to this point or enrolled them in daycare since they were born, the transition to kindergarten is a big one for everyone. In our experience, children and their parents all experience the significance of this big step.
In the state of Florida, children are eligible to start kindergarten when they turn 5 years old. Specifically, they must be 5 by the cut-off date of September 1 in order to attend. However, some families whose children turn 5 close to that date opt to hold their children back for a year. That decision is left up to the parents based upon their child’s development, though there isn’t significant evidence that holding children back impacts their future performance. If you’re unsure about your child’s readiness for kindergarten we encourage you to reach out to our office for support.
As the time ticks closer to sending your child off to school we hear from parents who want to know what they can do now to prepare their child for a successful launch into kindergarten. Bearing in mind that all children are developmentally different, here are some important skills that you can begin practicing today to prepare your young children for school.
Most children don’t learn to read before they attend kindergarten. If your child is already reading that’s great! But what’s important about the time you and your child spend reading together is the skills they pick up along the way. Listening to you read books helps children to pick up new vocabulary and become familiar with the way sentences are structured. Children who are read to often have a better grasp of their vocabulary.
Additionally, reading to your children helps them develop an understanding of story structure. There is a beginning, middle, and end to each story and most have a climax and resolution. As your child learns to process a story’s emotional components it can help them learn to process their own emotions. As you spend more time reading to your child you’ll notice they become more attentive and focused on the content of the story. This ability to pay attention will be helpful as they begin kindergarten. If you’re not already spending time reading together with your children, now is a great time to start.
Developing Social Skills
When we think about socializing our children, it’s easy to only think about the benefits of them having friends. While friendships are valuable, socialization goes beyond the bonds that are created. It encompasses a person’s ability to move through social situations while considering the experiences of the people around them.
While you prepare your child for kindergarten, have you noticed how well they socialize with other children? Like everything, these developmental hurdles vary from child to child. Some kids seem to socialize naturally, while others develop more slowly. A great way to begin socializing is through playdates hosted at your home. This way your child is comfortable in their own environment. Then over time as they become more social they’ll learn to use those skills in public places like parks and playgrounds.
Create Opportunities For Play
You may think that your child’s playtime is just for fun, but playtime is an important developmental tool that helps children develop their creativity. In the moments that your child is making up imaginary worlds or drawing pictures of animals that only exist in their minds they are developing their ability to think creatively. When your child gets lost in imaginative play, consider that he or she is developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
And while some children get lost in their creative thoughts, others express themselves more with their bodies. Do you have a child who loves to run and jump off things or try every sport and experiment with feats of strength? While this play may make you nervous, safe physical play helps to build children’s courage and enables them to become more connected with their own bodies. It’s easy to overschedule children, but great creativity is often born from moments of boredom. Education is important for your child’s future academic success, but as you prepare your child for kindergarten, make sure you’re also celebrating all of the academic growth that comes through play.
Instill A Curiosity For Learning
Kindergarten is just the first year of many to come of your child’s education. Nothing will serve them better than having developed a curiosity for learning. As you prepare your child for kindergarten make sure to include opportunities for exploration and curiosity. Trips to the zoo, state parks, and museums are great opportunities for them to have fun and engage with learning. When you see your child express interest in learning something new, lean into it. You may be surprised how that interest begins to shape his or her early education.
Each child who walks through our doors is individual and has varying levels of preparedness for kindergarten. No matter how well prepared your children are, our experienced kindergarten teachers will be able to usher them through their first year of school with ease. Consider this list of kindergarten preparation tips a jumping-off point for how your family can take meaningful steps toward attending school. For more information about sending your child to kindergarten at St. Barnabas School, contact us today.