I have been in the education field for the last dozen years. I know firsthand what happens when parents do not adequately prepare their child for kindergarten. It is always tempting to just put your young toddler in front of the television so you can get some much needed work done, but down the road it will cost you much more time and energy.
Your child will have to be tutored to help catch them up to the rest of the class. No parent wants their young child to have such a poor experience during their first year of schooling that it affects them for the rest of their lives. Just follow these simple tips while your child is still young, and by the time they reach kindergarten they will be at the head of the class. You will have a child that loves to get out of bed every day to go to school.
We will get to the educating your child part soon, but I wanted to make something very clear. If your young child does not have the proper manners and social skills needed, it can be just as detrimental to their life as struggling with reading or math. The importance of how to treat others cannot be stressed enough. What good would it be if your child was the smartest kid around, but didn’t have any friends? Make proper manners and social skills a priority. It is much easier to teach them these when they are young rather than struggling with them in junior high.
Read Early and Often
The number one indicator of academic achievement early on for children is the ability to read fluently. As a certified Reading Specialist, I diagnose and treat students with reading difficulties and true disabilities. If a child is struggling with reading, it affects them in every subject area. All content areas need strong reading skills.
Begin early, and read to your toddler every night. However, many parents make the mistake of not showing the page to their child as they read the words to them. Not only show them the pictures, but point to the words as you read it to them. It will amaze you on how they can pick up on so many words just from sight alone. There are also simple sight word flashcards that can be picked up online quickly or you can make your own at home.
The other way to guarantee your child will be reading at the top of the class is to teach them basic phonics skills. Show them what letters make which sounds. Demonstrate how words can be sounded out completely just by knowing the letters and the sounds. There are also phonics workbooks available that only cost a dollar or two. It’s a good investment when it comes to your child’s reading success.
Numbers and Simple Math
It’s cute hearing toddlers trying to count. They usually start off well with saying 1, 2, 3, and then jump up to 17, 44, 100. Everyone always has a good laugh at this, and they should. It is a cute moment.
But as a primary level educator, I have heard first grade students count this same way. At this point, all the cuteness of their inventive counting has worn off. The laughs are replaced with concerns. Number sense should be introduced early and often before your child even has their first day of school in kindergarten.
Start off with flashcards and have them place them in the correct order for 1 through 10 while they say it aloud. Make sure to get the flashcards that also have some sort of tally marks or something on them. This way the child is learning number sense, so when they see the number 3 it means they have three of something. Then when you eventually switch over to simple addition and subtraction, the number sense will already be there.
Make It Fun!
If this sounds like a lot of work, it really isn’t. Young children have very short attention spans, so these little activities should should not last more than five to ten minutes. The key is to do them often enough instead. Repeat these lessons frequently otherwise they will soon forget them.
Come up with activities that will help making the learning fun. Spinners and dice will work with math, and can show the child how many sight word cards they have to read correctly to get a reward. Be creative with the learning activities! Not only are you preparing your child for the future, but you are also making a lifetime of memories at the same time.