The countdown to kindergarten and preschool has begun. Don't wait! Be proactive and prepare your child for a successful transition into this new and important experience. It will lay the foundation for your little one's future.
My Amazon Author Page just launched! Visit it through the link below and ask me questions so I can help your family make a smooth transition to school. The Countdown to Kindergarten and Preschool is on!
Experiencing school and the opportunities it creates is an important developmental milestone. While attending a new school is exciting and fun, it also can be unnerving for children.
Regardless of whether a child has never gone to school, or has attended preschool and is about to enter kindergarten, they share similar concerns: “Will I be all right at school?” and “What will I do there?.” All children know is they will be dropped off in a classroom and left by us. Often we leave them with no idea of what to expect.
It’s like you or I showing up for a new job without being told our job description!
It’s not hard to understand that children, like us, need to know what to expect in order to feel comfortable and excel.
Here is some advice to ease the transition to kindergarten for both you and your child.
Reading to a child is one of the most important things you can do to prepare him for kindergarten. Not only is it a great bonding activity, it builds language and listening skills needed for kindergarten and life-long learning.
It’s never too early to start reading to your child.
Play is an essential part of learning for young children. It allows them to satisfy their curiosity by experimenting with things in their physical environment. Play also helps children learn how to cooperate with others through sharing and taking turns. Set aside some time to play with your child and let her lead the activity. It’s also helpful to arrange playdates with other children to support the development of your child’s social skills, like expressing feelings and coping with conflict.
LET YOUR CHILD HELP
Encourage your child to help you prepare a snack. (Enjoy their eagerness to help now because in a few years, it might be more difficult to convince them to lend a hand!) Preparing meals helps children practice following directions, measuring (ingredients) and counting. Children are expected to know how to follow basic directions and count from 1-10 before entering kindergarten.
MAKE SOMETHIING NEW
Make something with your child using crayons, finger paint, or glue (non-toxic),
for example. This will encourage him to get engaged in arts and crafts at
school. It also can help develop the fine motor skills needed for kindergarten, like coloring and cutting with child-safe scissors. When your little artist is finished, help him write his name on his creation, which reinforces another kindergarten readiness skill: the ability to write and recognize one’s name.
GIVE YOUR CHILD A PREVIEW
Before the first day of kindergarten, take your little scholar on a tour of his new classroom and school to help ease the transition to this new environment. Don’t forget to visit the playground so your child can associate school with fun and feel more comfortable there.
Once kindergarten starts, try to stay informed about what your child is doing in school. Always feel free to talk to the teachers and administrators and ask questions. Encourage your little one to share his or her experiences with you too. You both are in for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
I love these placemats that will help us discuss things with our families that matter! Download them from Doinggoodtogether.org:
INSPIRATION - What do you think this means? “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou
TABLE TALK - If someone tripped a kid in the lunchroom and everyone laughed, would you too? Why or why not?
Please print them out, discuss and share your stories with us!
Skills Encouraged With This Activity: Color and shape recognition. Fine motor skills including cutting with child safety scissors, taping or gluing, writing, and coloring.
Want to make something special for dad? Show dad you love him by making him a colorful, fun tie! All you need are child safety scissors, markers or crayons, TWO sheets of paper, and glue or tape.
FIRST, on a sheet of paper, draw the outline of a tie.
SECOND, it’s time to get creative! Decorate your tie any way you want. This is a good time to talk about colors and shapes. Encourage your little ones to name the colors and shapes they are using to decorate their tie.
When you are finished decorating, EITHER put your second sheet of paper underneath the drawing of your tie, and cut out the tie so you make TWO ties OR cut out your tie and hold it over the blank sheet of paper so your child can trace the outline of the tie to cut out a second tie.
NEXT, glue the top of your decorated tie to the top of your blank tie.
Inside is where you can write your favorite thing about your dad or other important male figure in your life. Allow your child to talk about their favorite things about their dad and then, if able, they can write them inside the tie.
When you have completed your tie, you can share your child’s design on Twitter or our Facebook page with the hashtag #FamilyFriday #Carla&LivKIDS and see everyone else’s beautiful ties!
Happy #FamilyFriday and Happy Father’s Day!
Skills Encouraged With This Activity: Counting (1-5) and Color Recognition!
While walking through your backyard, neighborhood, or local park, look for flowers with different colors or numbers of petals. Along the way, ask your child to count how many petals are on the flowers, or how many points are on the leaves. Also, encourage your child to describe what color each flower or leaf is.
How many points does each leaf have? What colors are the leaves?
How many petals does each flower have? What color is each flower?
As the children explore nature, you can explain to them how the flowers grow and get their beautiful colors. Just like humans, plants need food AND water to grow. But how? Photosynthesis! (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/photosynthesis)
Just like how humans cook each meal, plants make their own food too. Plants need water, carbon dioxide (CO2), and light to make their food.
Next, look at a picture of a flower or an actual flower and use either Cheerios or thumb prints to create the flower petals while your child counts them out loud. Then add the stems.
Feel free to draw more stems or draw more petals when the children can work up to 10!
Not only is this exercise fun, but it allows your little ones to be creative while learning about the variety of colors and shapes in nature along with photosynthesis (the process of how plants make food).
Skills encouraged with this activity: Counting and Shapes!
Children (ages 3-5) can physically count Popsicle sticks, which reinforces their understanding of this mathematical concept. It makes an abstract concept concrete by letting them experience counting through sight and touch. Let kids place one stick on the table or floor for each number they say out loud with you. They should at least know how to count from 1-10 before entering kindergarten.
You also can play a game to see how many shapes you both can make with Popsicle sticks. For example, Liv and I made this square, triangle and rectangle:
Not only are you teaching your little ones shapes, but also geometry. As children make the shapes with the Popsicle sticks, you can show them that a square has four sides, while a triangle has just three. Little hands also can compare and contrast a square and a rectangle. What's the same about them? What's different?
I've shared a few ideas, but there are many more for you and your child to discover together.
Parents & Teachers, please share your own ideas with us!
PRE-K & K-PREP SKILLS: Fine motor including gluing, cutting with child safety scissors and coloring; Identification of shapes and colors; Executive function to help plan what will go in the square space on the pizza box. There's a RECYCLING MESSAGE in this activity too.
Friday and pizza make a great pair. If Pizza's on the menu this weekend, save the pizza box. I got this idea from a local Cafe Pizzaiolo when I noticed the original and folksy artwork on the walls. (They have great pizza too). Liv and I liked the 3D aspect of the artwork, some of which we could tell had been made by children. There were other pieces that were clearly done by experienced artists. The closer we looked, we realized the art was all done on pizza boxes, dozens of them! The boxes gave the artwork that 3D appearance, i.e., VERY COOL. We fell in love with the idea of creating our own "pizza box art" to bring back to Cafe Pizzaiolo and display with the others. So we wasted no time in:
1) eating pizza,
2) eating more pizza,
3) saving the pizza box,
and creating our masterpiece.
Liv used pen to color the girl (herself) and a combination of construction paper and ribbon to make the table, bird, tree, grass and flower. I let Liv take the lead (even though I wanted to make a collage out of magazine clippings). As parents, even though it's hard, we should try to resist directing our children's play and let them take the lead. This is called child-directed play and it enhances self-confidence, self regulation and "an opportunity for the child’s access to focused, uninterrupted adult attention and close contact, without having to rely on negative or provocative behaviors to do so."
Please post any pizza box art here or on our Facebook page!
We'd love to see it!
GET MORE RESEARCH-BASED, FUN & FREE SCHOOL READINESS ACTIVITIES with the groundbreaking book, SCHOOL IS NEW TO ME: A Beginner's Guide to Starting School. (Children 2-5yrs.)
We all know how hard it is to find 10 minutes with our kids every day, to focus on being a kid again, to focus on just being. A few nights ago, Liv was in bed waiting for me to “do story time.” I had just one more itty bitty email to answer. “I’ll be there in two minutes,” I yelled to her from my den. Finished in eight minutes, I was so proud of myself. “Boy, am I efficient,” I thought, practically patting myself on the back. I ran into Liv’s room with our new library book in hand ready for a fantastic story time. And – drum roll please -- I heard snoring. Granted, it was light snoring, but snoring nonetheless. Liv was sleeping. I was devastated. I know: tired moms and dads everywhere are wondering why. Isn’t a soundly sleeping child what we all aspire to nightly or hourly (depending on our child’s age)? But I had missed out on something big. I realized story time was at least as important to me as it was to her – or even more so. For me it’s a time to relax, turn off the smart phone and give my undivided attention to my little girl. In turn, I have her undivided attention, a real treat in this age of electronic devices and kids’ crowded schedules. It’s our time to talk, laugh and cuddle. Now, I had to wait a full 24 hours for that chance to come around again. I was somewhat baffled by my own level of disappointment. “No big deal,” I thought as I tried to console myself. “Now I can watch TV, do my nails or (gasp) talk to my husband in full sentences.” Instead, I just went to bed.
Let’s keep in mind that there are only a finite number of “story times” left for us. Before we know it, open doors and our children’s anticipating arms will be replaced by closed doors and “Do Not Enter” signs. Of course, we will continue our communication with our children as they grow older – but in very different ways.
So if I could leave you with one thing today, it’d be this: Don’t let anything come between you and those daily 10 minutes of uninterrupted, beautiful, and timeless time with your child.
What signs of birds can you and your little one see and hear this weekend?
Liv found this hatched robin's egg on the ground near our house. "What color is it? What shape is it? What was inside? What came out of it?" These are a few questions to help your child learn about colors, shapes and even science!
On my same walk with Liv, I heard this bird singing and recorded it for you. Ask your child to listen closely:
Can your family figure out what kind of bird made that sound? Here's a hint: Which of the following bird sounds matches my recording?
ANSWER: Mourning Dove
Listening and paying attention, practiced in this activity, are key skills for school readiness -- and life!
Let’s talk about conservation, counting and frogs!
Why are frogs important other than being cute and greenish? “Frogs and toads can be used as indicator species because they are vulnerable to changes in the atmosphere, the land, or the water.” https://www.naturewatch.ca/frogwatch/.
As reported on WAMU (American University Radio) this morning, “[T]he number of frogs in an area can serve as a good indicator of overall environmental health. There’s been a worldwide decline in amphibians, [Scientist] Gauza says, with one out of every three amphibians at risk of going extinct. ‘We could even be facing the greatest loss of species since the dinosaurs,’ she says.” https://wamu.org/news/16/05/09/when_dc_frogs_call_for_mates_these_human_volunteers_respond
How can our families help? We can join a local chapter of FrogWatch USA or start our own. This organization teaches volunteers how to recognize the different sounds of different kinds of frogs. We can also learn to count all of the different songs we hear at one time. And that’s the tricky part.
Count & Draw Frogs:
For young children, let’s start out by drawing frogs. How many? Check out this link to see how many species of frogs live in your area: https://www.aza.org/states-and-territories/. Help your child draw that same number of frogs. Then let them listen to the different sounds of each frog on these links: https://www.aza.org/states-and-territories/
Make a Sound Log:
Take your child outside after sunset to listen to all of the different sounds in your area. What do they hear? How many different sounds? Are they frogs, animals, insects, cars, barking dogs, or what?
Encourage your little one write down the number of different sounds they hear for one week by a sound log. Now – in addition to math -- they’re engaged in hands-on science learning by making observations and recording data.
Have fun and please share with us what you find!
Liv hunting for the sounds of nature here. I had to keep reminding her to be quiet in order to hear the "secret songs" of nature.
I'm a Parent Educator, Author, and Founder of Carla & Liv KIDS. My mission is to prepare every child for a strong start in school. One of my tools is my quick-read, research-based book, SCHOOL IS NEW TO ME: A Beginner's Guide to Starting School.