For you parents of a Preschool or Pre-K May 2017 graduate, in about 100 days, your child will start Kindergarten! With the fun of summer almost upon us, those 100 days will go by very quickly! I want to help you make the most of your time together this summer, while still carving out in your schedule some regular blocks of Kindergarten Readiness tasks so that you don’t find yourself in that all-too-familiar spot in August of having realized that all your best laid plans for summer practice went unfulfilled. “Your child may have gone to preschool, daycare, or a Head Start program. But in kindergarten, there will be a greater focus on skills such as language and math” (Channing Bete Company, Inc., 2011). There is an easy way to build in this 15- minute time slot 3-5 times per week that will still leave you feeling that carefree vibe that summer carries that should be honored and enjoyed!
- Create a Summer Staycation Suitcase! Either use a real suitcase or create a suitcase out of a shoe box with a lid. Wrap the shoe box in a glued-on file folder that your child decorates. Add a cardboard handle to each side of the file folder at the top so that the file folder can be held together at the top by you or your child. At the beginning of summer, fill the shoebox with different materials of your choice that you will use throughout the summer to practice certain skills. When you lay the suitcase down with the bottom of the shoebox sitting on the floor, you should be able to pull back the top file folder (which is glued to the lid) to reveal what is inside the box. Plan a fun reveal for your child by hiding the suitcase somewhere in the house. Have your child follow a homemade map, taking a trip through the house or yard to find the suitcase. When your child finds the suitcase, allow him/her some time to explore and play with the objects inside.
- Inside the suitcase should be a daily Visual Schedule that can be followed and easily adjusted either daily or several days per week to help you stay on track. This way, come the end of summer, you know that you accomplished your goal of Kindergarten Readiness practice so that your child is readier to take that trip to Kindergarten!
- Create that flexible Visual Schedule! At the top of a vertical piece of cardstock, title your chart I am ready for Kindergarten! so that your child understands the purpose behind the chart and practice while simultaneously getting excited and confident about going to Kindergarten! Your child will begin to learn to see himself/herself as a Kindergartener! Then, down the left side of the chart, you will want to place 3-5 small pieces of Velcro (the scratchy side) in a column. Be sure these are relatively evenly spaced between the top and bottom of the page. Then, using cardstock again, create squares with pictures and simple words on them stating the concepts you will be working through during the summer. Then, in the center of the backside of the square, place a piece of Velcro (the soft side). You can laminate your squares and chart or cover them each in contact paper before adding all this Velcro, if you’d like.
- Example of the front of a square: Write the word “Counting” at the top. Then, add a picture or a photo of some numbers. As you read this word every time you read the chart with your child to see what will be practiced that day, your child will begin to read the word “counting” as a sight word as well as understand the meaning of the word by looking at the related picture.
My suggestion is to create 5-10 squares and alternate them based on the needs of your child. You could put 3 a day (or more) onto your chart. (Remember you have 5 Velcro places on your chart, but you don’t need to use them all each day that you practice.)
Each day that you practice, place that day’s Visual Schedule as well as ONLY those materials needed to accomplish those concepts into the suitcase. Have your child hunt and find the suitcase using a homemade map, or place it in the same spot in his/her own room every day so that he/she takes ownership of it. Have your child open the suitcase each day when it is time to “Get Ready for Kindergarten!”
- Practice those Kindergarten Readiness Concepts! As a current Kindergarten teacher, myself, here are some concepts I would suggest for your cards for you to choose from:
- Counting forwards and backwards to 10.
- Counting forwards to 25.
- Recognizing numbers to 10 or 20.
- Recognizing and Identifying lowercase (When we write as well as read books and other text, we interact mostly with lowercase letters, not uppercase letters. We want words and books to begin to be accessible for your child. Unknown lowercase letters will hinder that.)
- Letter sounds (Every letter makes a sound!)
- Writing your name in the title case (There is an uppercase letter at the beginning, and all the rest of the following letters are lowercase, because that’s how authors write.)
- Practice holding the pencil with a tripod or quad pencil grip. If this is tricky, use a short pencil or crayon. (Short writing tools are easier to control and manipulate.)
- Write lowercase letters from memory on large, early-childhood lined paper so that your child is poised to begin writing words and sentences, which is becoming a greater focus in Kindergarten. This will help with line usage on the paper as well.
- Touch and count objects drawn on a paper using one-to-one correspondence (being able to touch and count at the same time).
- Touch and count objects that need to be picked up and placed in something using one-to-one correspondence.
- Scissor Skills: Cut the outline of simpler coloring book images. Cut straight, wavy, and circular lines. Be sure to remind your child of the “Thumbs Up!” rule when holding scissors. The smaller side of the scissors holds the thumb, and the thumb is the side of the hand closest to the sky. The larger side of the scissors holds the second and third finger (pointer and tall man) and is the side that is closest to the floor. Cutting different kinds of lines and shapes will teach your child to hold the paper in the air with the other hand and rotate the wrist while cutting with the cutting hand. If your child is left-handed, he/she should use left-handed scissors. Children should use kid scissors that are safe.
- Coloring Skills: Be sure your child is holding the crayon with the tripod or quad grip. Children should be making larger, controlled strokes to shade in a picture much of the time instead of tiny vertical strokes that leave much white space in the picture.
As skills are mastered, cards can be switched out for new concept cards. However, be sure to circle back around to those mastered concepts once a week, or they will quickly become unmastered! Committing skills to long-term memory takes time!
The variety of skills listed here will help prepare your child for Kindergarten skills related to language and math such as: fine motor, Handwriting, written expression, and fluency in reading and writing. This helps to produce a more confident kid whose readiness to begin the journey of Kindergarten has likely increased!
- If needed, you may choose to provide a sticker chart for your child to place a sticker on the chart each time this practice is done to help with motivation and accountability for both of you. If you do, be sure to hang this on the fridge or somewhere in the busy part of your house where you both see it all the time.
- However you typically plan your week, you may choose to pencil in this time (15 minutes) on certain days like you would an appointment.
- Learning Tower, LLC. does provide Kindergarten Readiness tutoring! Contact us today for more information!
Get out there and make the summer of 2017 both a fun and productive summer, and “Get Ready for Kindergarten!”