I was recently asked by Indiana Fox News to stop by the studio and give just a few brief tips on how to prepare for Full Day Kindergarten. Part of the reason for this is because here in Indiana, many part time public kindergarten classrooms have now been changed to full day and it has raised concern for many parents. You can view the 31/2 minute news video at the bottom of this post…
Really, whether you are getting ready for full day or half day kindergarten, many of the tips would be similar but because we are focusing on full day, these would be a few of the most important readiness tips I can share…
A good night’s sleep is very important for young children to be successful in school. 10 to 12 hours of sleep per night is the recommended time needed for young children.
After School Activities
Keep after school activities down to a minimum. After a long day at school, young children need time to relax and wind down from their day.
A healthy breakfast and a healthy lunch are very important. It is hard to concentrate on anything else when you get hungry. If you are packing your child’s lunch, choose foods that are filling and provide energy but at the same time can be eaten in a short amount of time.
Eating at the Table
If your child is used to eating away from the table, it is time to change that. Eating with the family at dinner time will give your child a good chance to talk with you about his or her day. You also will want your child in the habit of sitting at the table until he or she is finished with the meal.
Lunch time at school is often a short period of time and your child needs to be in the practice of eating a meal without getting up to run around during the meal time.
Your child will be more confident if he or she can put on a jacket, pull up. zip or button pants, put on shoes, and other basic skills in dressing himself during the school day. Be sure to choose clothing that your child can be relaxed in, play in and take on or off (as needed) all by himself.
By the way – this does not include tying shoes. It is not unusual for kindergarteners to learn how to tie their shoes during their kindergarten school year.
Care of Belongings
Start early teaching your child how to put things away when finished playing with them at home.
Remind your child to put lids back on markers, crayons back in the box, and to close the lid on glue bottles or glue sticks. Give your child opportunity to use these items and practice taking care of their school supplies at home so they will be prepared to take care of them at school.
Back Pack Talk
Help your child select a back pack that is large enough to fit full sized folders, books, and papers in but not so large that the child can’t carry it easily to and from school.
Sit down with your child every day after school and go through the back pack to see what is coming home and to talk about what might need to be coming home.
Remind your child to put take-home papers in the back pack.
Make sure your child is wiping his own bottom after going potty. As a general rule, Kindergarten teachers are not in the practice of wiping bottoms and it is in your child’s best interest to take care of his or her own hygiene while at school.
Make sure your child is also in the habit of washing hands after going potty as well.
If your child hasn’t spent much time away from you, heading off to a full day of Kindergarten is going to be a big step.
If possible, start smaller by taking your child to spend a fun day at trusted relatives or friends houses here and there so your child will be more confident and less anxious when you are leaving and while you are not there.
Give your child lots of opportunities to spend time with other children his or her same age.
Don’t be in a big rush to interfere with every “normal childhood” conflict that arises. Your child needs plenty of practice developing his or her own skills in making new friends, getting along with others, working through disappointments and conflicts, cooperating, taking turns, and discovering how to be a good friend.
If your child is struggling to positively work through some of these social skills on his or her own, sit down at home and give some healthy tips and encouragement.
Give your child opportunities to develop both fine motor and large motor skills through play and creative experiences.
Give your child ample opportunity to develop fine motors skills through activities that include cutting, gluing, painting, drawing, folding, tearing, and other uses of those small motor skills.
Give your child ample opportunity to play outdoors, toss and catch a ball, run, march, jump, and other large motor development type activities.
Your child will be learning much throughout his or her kindergarten year but you can participate at home through some of the following ways…
- Read, Read, Read: Reading with and to your child often will help your child as they begin their path to mastering literacy and language and more.
- Decision-Making: Give your child ample opportunities that will foster his or her ability to make good decisions and choices. Sometimes a “not-so-good” decision under your watchful eye can lead to an opportunity to learn and make better decisions in the future.
- Ask your child open ended questions. These are questions that promote critical thinking and require more than a yes or no answer or a one word response.
Self-regulation is having the ability to know when a certain behavior or action needs to be changed.
Help your child develop the skills to regulate or monitor or recognize when his or her own behavior and actions need to be stopped, changed, or toned down a bit.
For example, a child who can recognize when the play is getting too rough or the laughter is too loud and then can make good decisions to adjust that behavior or action will be on the path towards positive self-regulation.
Encourage, model, and teach your child to care about other children and people as well as the things in their world like pets, plants, and the things that belong to others.
Developing a sense of empathy is an important part of early development and you want your child to have a sense of caring and concern so that he or she will grow up to value the well-being of others as well as self.
See the interview on Indiana Fox Morning News below…
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