By Alexandra Fallon, Principal
A new Kindergarten class can include such a wide variety of students; from those that have been in structured programs since birth to littles who have solely been supported by their caregiver at home. Regardless of each student’s academic history, having our little ones transition into a formal school setting can be an emotional and overwhelming process, especially if it is our first or only child.
Parents often fear their student may not be academically or socially prepared for kindergarten. Here are some educational skills that I have found truly give a strong, confident base as students transition into kindergarten. It is important to note that all students are different and will demonstrate varied strengths and weaknesses. Do not fret if your kiddo cannot achieve each of these skills perfectly.
- Rote Counting – Your little learner can consistently state aloud numbers in order 1 – 20. Rote counting is the process of counting in sequential order out loud. Do not be discouraged if your student occasionally skips numbers or rushes through numbers. Simply continue to support them in stating the correct sequence. In fact, one of the most common errors I observe when testing incoming kindergartners is the skipping of the number 13 while correctly counting the additional numbers in sequence to 20. Practice: Go on a nature walk and count to 100 together! Practice counting number sequences forward and backward. While practicing with your little, ensure that the pace and tone of the counting is appropriate for the student.
- One-to-one Correspondence – Your little learner can consistently count 20 objects. In one-to-one correspondence, the student is counting an object as they say the corresponding number. For example, if I laid a handful of paperclips in front of my student and asked them to count them aloud, they would likely state, “one, two, three,…etc.” ending with the total number of paperclips. Practice: Count all kinds of objects around the house. You can even group them together by color, shape, etc. to create smaller groups. While practicing, assist the student in pointing to or moving each object one at a time.
- A-B-C’s – Your little learner can consistently name the majority of the uppercase and lowercase letters of the English alphabet. Singing the alphabet song is a wonderful way expose our students to letters, however, a student who can sing the alphabet may not be able to recognize and name the individual letters.If the student is able to provide the sounds or “phonemes” that a letter produces, this further strengthens their base as they head into kinder. Also, incorporate rhyming words into games and activities as this assists the students in learning to isolate sounds within the words.
- 1-2-3’s – Your little learner can consistently recognize and name numbers 0 – 10. Practice: We are surrounded by letters and numbers! Go on a letter hunt for all the letters in your child’s name or choose a number each day to investigate throughout the day.
- Fine Motor Skills – Your little learner can trace, draw, color, and cut. Expose your student to a variety of writing, drawing, and painting utensils. It is important to show the students tools and provide them with the rules and expectations when using them, especially scissors. Practice: Draw patterns or words with chalk outside and have your little one trace them. Color-by-number and dot-to-dot pictures are excellent and fun resources that strengthen fine motor skills while further exposing the student to numbers.
- Name Game – Your little learner can write their first name. It is extremely common for students to write words with only capital letters so we often see all capital letter first names within the first few weeks of kindergarten. Practice: Have your student write their name in a variety of materials such as shaving cream, sand, or paint! Use an online word generator to write your student’s name and allow them to trace the name in all the colors of the rainbow.
The most important thing to remember when practicing these skills with your student is to be creative and have fun together. A quick internet search will provide you with all kinds of varied resources, materials, and ideas to try together. Enjoy!