It can be tough to know what your child should know before kindergarten. I remember when I was in kindergarten, I went to school for half day. We sang songs, listened to story time and played. Not only are many kindergarten programs whole day now, the day is filled with much more academics. Kindergarten has essentially transitioned into what first grade used to be.
These days, students are learning much more at a quicker pace. By the end of the school year, they are expected to know their letter names and sounds and to begin reading books. We learn to identify numbers in math and count. We quickly transition into basic addition, subtraction and comparing groups. In my experience, students who start kindergarten with some prior academic knowledge, have a much easier time learning the materials we cover. There are a few things I recommend students know before beginning kindergarten.
Writing their name
While we do work on handwriting and letter formation in kindergarten, students should come in knowing how to spell and write their name. This is also a great starting place for children to learn the letters in their name. I always recommend beginning to teach letters with ones that are meaningful to the child.
How to hold a pencil correctly
Holding a pencil correctly give students more control over their pencil and helps them form letters easier. If your child is struggling to hold a pencil or maintain their grip, working on fine motor skills may help to strengthen their hand muscles.
I teach students to lay their pencil on the table with the point of the pencil pointing towards their body. They grab the pencil with their pincher fingers (thumb and pointer finger) and then flip the pencil to push the eraser end to their hand. If a student struggles to maintain the correct pencil grip, giving them a shorter pencil (such as a golfing pencil) may help. Student’s won’t have enough room to grip the pencil with a fist.
Letter Names and Sounds
In kindergarten, we spend the first few months reviewing letter names and sounds. In my experience, the student who come in knowing some or most of their letter names and sounds tend to have a much easier time learning to read later in the school year. The review at the beginning of the year is fast paced and tends to reinforce the letter sounds for students that already know them. As we are learning each letter, we identify objects that begin with that particular letter. We later move towards identifying the ending and middles sounds of words. Click here to read my post on more specific ways to work on letter names and sounds with your child.
Counting to 20
In school, we work on verbally counting higher than 10, but coming into kindergarten with the knowledge of counting to 20 is a great foundation. We also work on identifying and naming numbers.
One to one correspondence is the knowledge that when count, each object should be counted once, and only once. When a student is struggling with counting objects, I recommend that parents work counting into conversation. For example, count how many chicken nuggets are on their plate for dinner or how many toy dinosaurs they are playing with. As children become more confident with counting objects in a row, slowly start to move objects into a less organized group.
If a child is struggling in a certain area, please know kindergarten is a time to work on those skills. These are just suggestions of things to work on prior to kindergarten to make the transition into kindergarten easier. What are you working on with your child?