Welcome to Kindergarten, It’s OK Mama
You take a deep breath and then exhale as you look at the enrollment paper for Kindergarten. Has it really been five years? Really? “Wasn’t I just sleep deprived because you were nursing every two hours?” you think to yourself. Now suddenly, it feels as though you’re on a rollercoaster with twist, turns, and drops that make you feel like you’ll lose your lunch. Slow down Mama.
Kindergarten is exciting and scary all at the same time. This is your baby’s chance to make friends, learn new things, and grow. It’s scary because it causes us to question ourselves and abilities. Did I teach you what you need to know to be prepared? Did you get too much screen time? Was I too strict with the screen time and now you won’t relate to something the other kids bond over? Why didn’t I read to you more? Are you going to sit and listen to the teacher? Lord, please don’t let them call me. All of these things or questions like them will probably go through your mind. Trust me, there is a wide variety of emotions you may find yourself going through.
The list for kindergarten changes it seems every year. The current trend seems they are expected to know their colors, numbers to 10 and how to write their name. You see the list and feel overwhelmed. Maybe you’ve tried your absolute best to teach them to write their name and it’s just not happening. I’ve been there! I tried, bought handwriting books, did everything I could think of to encourage them to do it and – negative. It was a fight and even then it didn’t turn out. As life would have it, they go to school and come home with their name written on paper. ( <–THIS SERIOUSLY HAPPENED)“Look at what I did Mommy!” they say proudly. You aren’t sure if you want to hug them or go scream into a pillow but ultimately, you are happy they did it.
Keep that in mind as you prepare your little one for kindergarten. Some lessons don’t look like they are sticking but they are. They are getting it. Consistency and love are key to this journey that you are on. Easier said than done, but it’s true.
I was so so sad when my kids started kindergarten. It was especially hard with my youngest. I had to put on my happy face and show my excitement thought because I didn’t want them to dread it or think they should feel bad for growing up. I wanted them to look forward to new adventures, even though it was hard for me too. My kids are pretty attached to me, for instance, I walk to the garage and within thirty seconds, one of them is looking for me like an alarm has gone off. When it came to school though, they were like “peace out!” and confidently walked in to take it on. I was a little mad (hey I’m just being honest) but so proud at the same time.
Preparing For Kindergarten
Here are some things that you can help your child with prior to and during Kindergarten to help them along.
Responsibilities for Kids 5+
A great way to help your child prepare for Kindergarten is to give them some responsibilities. This helps them in being helpful, following directions and boost their self-esteem when they look at their accomplishments.
- Some ideas may include
- Hanging up their towel
- Cleaning their room
- Feed pets
Developing and Improving Fine Motor Skills
This is the smaller movements that occur in the wrist, hands, fingers, feet and toes. It involves things such as picking up objects and writing carefully. Helping a child develop fine motor skills is an important aspect to their learning. It’s as easy as giving them crayons and paper to draw on. Let them practice writing, drawing simple pictures or self-portraits. Even just scribbling around on paper.
Understood.org has 6 Fine Motor Skills Activities for Kidsthat includes fun things like playing with putty!
Developing and Improving Gross Motor Skills
There is a Washington Post article on getting your child ready for kindergartenthat is really good. It mentions giving them plenty of unstructured outdoor play. Allowing them to run, jump, imagine and create. It helps them to understand their bodies and abilities, practicing balance as well as gaining strength. A positive side effect of this is, they’ll probably sleep well at night with that too!
Parenttoolkit.com has some great tips on gross motor skills for kindergarten.
Practicing Math and Numbers
Counting as you go up stairs, or how many m&m’s they get are fun ways to introduce numbers and counting to them. You can show them the concepts of addition and subtraction and it doesn’t feel like ‘work’ to them.
Encouraging and Fostering Independence
Things like shutting the bathroom door/bathroom stall so they can go potty. I’m not saying send them in a public restroom alone; I’m saying let them go into the stall itself and wait of the other side. You’d be surprised at how many kids have no idea they need to shut the stall. Then again, it’s just not something they’ve ever had to do so they don’t necessarily think about it.
Let them proactive opening their own chips, or fruit snacks. They will be in a cafeteria full of other kids and while I’m sure there will be adult supervision when you have four classes of kids to help someone is going to get stuck waiting. It’s good to help them learn before hand.
Putting Things Away
I totally get that sometimes, it is just easier and faster to do it yourself. It is still good though to take the time and have them put away their things that have been taken out. It’s also a good a idea to remind them of things such as pushing in a chair when they leave the table.
More Resources To Help With Preparing For Kindergarten
For those of you who have kindergartners starting next year, there’s a great site Teachmama.com that has an article on summertime prep for Kindergarten(which of course can be used anytime). It includes a lot of really great resources and “do this by” suggestions!