Preschool and kindergarten readiness is something that all parents worry about. Whether you are planning to homeschool or your child will be attending public or private school – these are 10 skills that every child should know before pre-k or kindergarten!
As a Pre-K and Kindergarten teacher I saw so many children come into my classroom who had not been fully equipped for dealing with things on their own, without a parent.
While that was challenging in a small class, I was able to help them quickly learn and go on to have a successful year. However, in a larger classroom (public schools often have 25+ children per teacher) it would have been very difficult to help each child individually as they learned these new skills.
Not having these skills when they enter the classroom causes a lot of stress for young children who are suddenly without their parents, many for the first time.
I have a complete list of kindergarten readiness skills that are important (get the free kindergarten readiness checklist for free here), but alongside a kindergarten checklist, it’s also important to look at your child’s overall school experience.
These skills will help them not only with kindergarten, but will help them succeed during their entire school career!
10 Essential Skills for Pre-K and Kindergarten Readiness
These are the skills I notice most children struggle with and the ones I would recommend focusing on first!
Teaching your child these 10 essential skills will help them feel confident in their ability to deal with anything that may come up, and help them feel comfortable with those around them!
1. Letter Recognition
The alphabet, letter recognition, and letter sounds are a major component of the preschool and kindergarten curriculum.
Letters will be covered extensively, but it’s best for the classroom to help cement ideas that your child is already familiar will. At the very least, your child should know the ABC’s song and it would be better if they could identify all the uppercase letters as well!
This is a great game for learning to identify letters quickly!
2. How to Count
Again, this will be covered in the classroom, but making sure that your child can count to 10 will help them commit the ideas to heart rather than struggling to learn them from scratch.
If you are able to help your child over the “teens” counting hurdle and onto 20’s and 30’s (and beyond), then so much the better!
3. How to Hold a Pencil
Help your child prepare for the coloring and writing activities that really start during preschool and kindergarten by helping them hold a pencil properly.
Pinching activities are a great way to strengthen their grip if they are having a hard time with the pencil hold!
4. How to Erase
As they are learning to hold a pencil well, make sure they also understand the concept of erasing.
Make sure they aren’t shredding the paper or the eraser during their attempts to erase mistakes!
5. Courtesy Phrases
Learning the simple courtesy phrases such as “Please”, “Thank you”, “No thank you”, “Nice to meet you”, and “I don’t want to play right now” will go a long way to helping your child communicate with those around them in a much better way.
When your child is able to communicate well with the other children (and the adults) around them, everyone involved will be in better spirits!
Plus, it’s just polite 😉
6. Their Name and Parent Names
What’s my name? Who is my mom? What’s my phone number?
These are all questions your child should be able to answer when they get to school. It’s likely the first time they will be away from a parent for an extended period of time on a regular basis.
Not only it is a great safety precaution, it will also help them feel more confident that they have that connection to the rest of their life.
7. Listening Skills
While somewhat of an obvious inclusion in this list, listening skills are often overlooked in the kindergarten readiness preparations.
Most children don’t come into the world knowing how to listen to what is actually being said. A great game to play to increase their listening skills is the “Red Light / Green Light” game!
It’s a fun way to make sure they are paying attention to what is actually being said!
8. Expressing Emotions
If your child loves Daniel Tiger’s Neighboorhood as much as mine does, they might already have a good handle on dealing with their emotions.
But no matter what they love to watch, it’s important that your child knows how to express and deal with the common emotions they may experience on a daily basis.
Remember, as much as teachers want and try to stop and help your child whenever they need it, it’s not always possible. Sometimes a teacher doesn’t know that a certain look means they are overwhelmed or that another child just said something hurtful…
Make sure that your child knows how to express what they are feeling and has some tools to deal with emotions on their own.
Some common emotions they may feel on a normal day in preschool or kindergarten may include:
- Fear of Failure
9. Self Sufficiency
While a 4 or 5 year old child is not going to be completely self-sufficient, there are a few things that can make them feel more confident during the time in preschool and kindergarten!
Skills that we take for granted mean the difference between being able to do something on your own, or having to constantly ask the teacher for help. Asking for help is a good thing, but children like to be as independent as possible in front of their peers.
Make sure your child knows how to open their lunch box and any containers you send, how to put on their jacket/sweater, how to zip and unzip their pants and jackets, and how to use the restroom alone.
10. How to Share with Others
Most children have been exposed to the idea of sharing well before preschool and kindergarten. However, some have not!
Make sure your child is aware of the fact that sharing and taking turns will be a daily part of their school career!
Also cover the idea of “borrowing”.
Another student may need to “borrow” a pencil or piece of paper. That likely means that the other student will keep the item even though borrowing usually means that the original student will get the item back.
I’ve helped many children through a meltdown revolving around this idea… preparing them is a great idea!
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