Verbalize Wants and Needs
Children who greet one another with a “Hello,” who ask their teachers for what they need, who negotiate well with peers, and who speak up for themselves will do well socially in kindergarten.
Write Their Names
Ideally, the children will write their first names from left to right with a capital first letter and the rest lower case. At the very minimum, though, they need to be able to write some form of their first name that is recognizable to the teacher.
Handle a Book
Not read it, but rather be able to locate the cover, hold it the right direction, turn the pages, and locate the text. The one and only way to teach this skill is to read to your child every single day. Have books in every room and in the car. Make sure that your child sees you reading your own books, too. Read, read, read!
Get Themselves Dressed
Kindergartners need to be able to put on their own coats and shoes and button their own pants. If your child hasn’t mastered shoe tying at the beginning of the year, don’t panic! Keep practicing, but be sure to send him to school in velcro shoes (or something similar) that he can do himself.
Be Independent in the Bathroom
Kindergarten teachers are likely not going to be able to accompany their students to the bathroom. The students must be able to handle their own pants (no overalls or onesies!), wipe themselves, and wash their own hands. Start practicing at age 4. This one’s important!
Use Scissors, Glue and Crayons
There’s a lot of coloring, cutting and pasting going on in kindergarten. The children who already know how to use their school supplies at the beginning of the year get a big gold star. If you need some suggestions for using scissors, I love this set of pictures that shows the “right” way and the “wrong” way.
Identify Some Letters and Letter Sounds
Starting with the letters of their name, children who are entering kindergarten should know many of the letters. It’s helpful if they also know that letters make sounds, but not imperative that they know what each one is.
Count to 10
Kindergartners should be able to rote count (1-2-3-4…) through 10 and also be able to count a set of objects (4 crackers) with good one-to-one correspondence.
There is research that shows that children who have good phonological awareness skills (Rhyming is one of them!) tend to become better readers. Play with rhyming words with your child. Sing nursery rhymes and rhyming songs. Read books that have rhymes.
Separate from their Parents
Separation anxiety is very common among children who are just beginning school. Kindergartners who are happy and comfortable in the school setting are off to a great start. Read here for more information about separation anxiety.
I’d love to hear from you. What do you think are the essential skills that all kindergartners need to have? If you are a kindergarten teacher, what do you wish that your incoming students would be able to do?
As always, have fun playing and learning with your children today!