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5 Kindergarten Readiness Tips From an Experienced Kindergarten Teacher

Whether your child attends kindergarten in a school building or at home, or some of each, these five tips are important life skills.

Kindergarten readiness“Find creative ways to practice these skills now and into the school year,” says Laura Knox, a former kindergarten teacher.

1. Help your children learn to communicate their needs (for example, ask for assistance when needed, try to explain feelings when distressed). As parents, we tend to know what our children need even before they do. Stop yourself from anticipating every need and let your child ask you for help. Read together children’s books in which the characters have a variety of feelings. Discuss them and how children might let the teacher know what they are feeling.


2. Encourage your child to practice following multistep directions independently.

Work up to three-step directions. For example, “put your pajamas on, brush your teeth, pick out a story.” To “cement” the directions in their memory, ask your children to hold up three fingers and touch each finger as you say and they repeat a task. No reminders unless the child asks. Revisit their three fingers to see if they can recall on their own.


3. Empower your child to do personal care tasks independently.

Toileting: Make sure the child follows all steps from start to finish and does proper handwashing.

Dressing: Make sure shirts are on right side out and hoods at the head end. Practice zippers, buttons, Velcro, ties and snaps. Be sure your children can dress themselves from undies to snow pants, boots, socks and mittens.

Snack time: Work on opening and closing food packaging such as snack containers and milk cartons. Purchase snack bags that are easy to use.

Frustration is inevitable. Teach them ways to recognize and handle those feelings and ask others for help after they have tried and tried on their own.


4. Work on building your child’s language skills.

Reading aloud to your preschool child is the most important 20 minutes in every parent’s day.

Listen to your child without distraction. Ask questions that require more than yes or no responses. For example, “What differences can you see between those two trees?” or “Why do you think we need to have rules?”

Answer your child with full thoughts and sentences. Have conversations where you take turns speaking and listening without interrupting each other. Try holding hands with your child if your child is having difficulty focusing.


5. Supply tools, teaching and supervision to strengthen your child’s fine motor skills (think wrists, hands and fingers)

Help your children learn to print their first name independently.

Supply crayons, markers, pencils and paper for anytime drawing, tracing and writing. Play dough is excellent for hand strength as well as creativity. Teach your child how to hold and use scissors properly.

You may have expected memorizing the alphabet and writing numerals to top the list but that is what your child will learn in kindergarten. Prepare your child to do some basic care tasks, communicate and function in a group setting. You will be pleasantly surprised how well these skills serve them.


Kim Bushaw
NDSU Extension Family Science Specialist


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