There are days where my oldest son is ready to jump on the school bus and head to kindergarten. And then there are days where he looks me in the eye and confesses that he’s nervous about a new school, new kids, and the very idea of kindergarten in general.
Same here, kid.
As we count down the days until kindergarten begins (112 as of this writing), there are items I know he will not struggle with because of his daycare experiences. Despite that, there are a few things we’re spending some extra time on at home. These aren’t exactly points I’ve seen on the multitude of kindergarten readiness Instagram and Pinterest posts — they’re little things that might boost my son’s confidence in the classroom and ease the transition to a new environment.
No matter what your soon-to-be kindergartener’s experience is (daycare, preschool, or home), these focus points might be helpful to you as well.
Writing their name
Trust me: As someone who grew up with 18 letters in my very German maiden name, there is never too much name-writing practice one can do. Our daycare has been working on name writing with the preschool class, but we’re also working on it at home. I struck gold at the dollar store when I found blank word strips. In dashed handwriting, I wrote his first name on one and his last name on another, and then I covered them in clear contact paper. My son can practice writing his name on them with a dry erase marker then wipe them clean and try again.
An appreciation for math
I struggled mightily with math, and much of my struggles were brought about by my negative attitude toward the subject. When I had kids, I knew I couldn’t pass that onto them. My sons have a tub of linking cubes (also called number blocks), and we build numbers, do addition and subtraction, and talk about shapes. For our soon-to-be kindergartener, I write and draw math problems to get him used to seeing them and illustrate the ways math shows up in our everyday life. By keeping the household’s general attitude toward math positive and calm, I am hoping my kids enter kindergarten eager and open to learn it.
Keeping things organized
I’ve started asking my son to help empty his bag from daycare and clean out his lunch box daily. When there is something that needs to be placed in his daycare bag for the next day, I ask him to help me to do it the night before. I’m hoping that doing this will provide him regular habits regarding homework, papers, and other items that might be sent home from school in the future.
We talk about what’s important to tell a teacher right away and what might be able to wait. I want to make sure my son feels comfortable telling a teacher he needs to use the bathroom or that he’s not feeling well. We talk about what a school bathroom might look like, and that there might be multiple people in there at the same time (something he’s unfamiliar with because his daycare has single bathrooms). These are small things I can do to make sure he isn’t afraid to take care of himself in a new environment.
My own kindergarten experience more than 30 years ago was very positive, and I truly believe that’s why I was prepared to handle some of the issues I had in later grades. By taking some time to address these little things alongside the typical kindergarten readiness material, I am hoping to give my son the same advantage.