I am a stay-at-home mom of three small children. The oldest will be four in December and just misses going to school this year. The preschools in our area are more than we can afford right now, and yet we do not qualify for any State or Federal funded preschool programs. What can I do to be sure my son is ready for kindergar ten?
- Mom of Three
It sounds like you have a very busy household. The first thing I can say to help you is that as a parent you are your child’s first and very best teacher. Your child is learning from what you do with him every day. Your daily routine gives you the opportunity to teach him what he needs to know in order to succeed in school and in life. Talking with your children about the world around them, sharing household chores, and visiting with friends and family all provide opportunities for your young children to learn and grow into curious and critical thinking school-agers.
A consistent daily routine can be the backdrop for teaching your children. Having breakfast together is a great opportunity to teach about healthy foods and how to plan for the day. Talk about the foods they eat and why they are good for them. Discuss what you will be doing each day, from having fun playing to cleaning the house to going shopping or visiting friends.
Your local library is a wonderful source for books, recordings, and videos on what happens in kindergarten, tales from around the world, and stories about nature. When you read, talk, sing and watch movies together about the things that interest your child, you are helping him to learn and preparing him to become a good student.
When children enter kindergarten, the most important thing they need is a well developed vocabulary. The more words your child knows and understands, the more effective communicator she can be. Children also need to be motivated to learn. Encouraging a sense of curiosity and inquiry will help your child to discover new and interesting things about her world. Having an opportunity to visit places where other children gather (such as at a park or playgroup) can support your child’s ability to make and keep friends, which is another competency that can ensure school readiness.
The self-help skills your child learns by doing simple chores like putting toys away, dressing himself, folding laundry and setting the table not only helps him become independent, but also helps develop small and large muscle control, counting, and other math skills (such as matching and sequencing).
Without even being aware of it, all of this learning happens all day, every day when parents are intentional in the things they do with their children. Children are learning all the time, whether at school or at home. Take some time to think about all the things your child has learned from you already and how that happened. As he gets older, increase the amount of information you share or discover new ways of learning. Field trips to museums, art galleries, historical sites, libraries, parks, restaurants, grocery stores and shops can be opportunities to learn about social studies, art, science, history and more. You will probably even discover that as your child’s first teacher, you will learn new things, too!