5 Things Parents can do at Home to Prepare Their Child for Kindergarten    

5 Things Parents can do at Home to Prepare Their Child for Kindergarten    

The move from preschool to kindergarten can come swiftly for parents. After all, this is the first major change in their child’s education since it began only a short time ago. While academics play a large part of kindergarten readiness, there are other skills that are important to master prior to the transition from preschool.

Here are five focus areas besides academics that parents can use to help their preschool age children prepare for kindergarten.


1. Following Directions

Your child likely has improved as they’ve gotten older when it comes to listening and following directions. However, kindergarten brings more independence, and with it the requirement that students are able to follow multi-step instructions on their own, with little prompting and fewer reminders from their teacher.

Practice at home:

Play games that make following directions part of the fun, like the following suggestions from Kid Sense (childdevelopment.com.au). Try a robot game where the “robot” (listener) is blindfolded and must follow a series of commands: “Go four steps forward and two steps to the right.” Work your way up to longer, more complex instructions. Also try reversing roles so your child is the one giving commands. Draw-by-instruction games are another creative way to enhance rule-following. Give a step-by-step description of a picture or drawing that your child cannot see, having them draw the picture as they listen. At the end, compare the two to see the similarities.


2. Hand Strength

At school, hand strength is required to grip a pencil and develop the endurance to complete the numerous writing tasks throughout the day, according to LLA Therapy (llatherapy.org). Encouraging your child to participate in everyday activities around the house can help develop the hand strength they need.

Practice at home:

Have your child use a spray bottle to water plants or play with a sponge in the bathtub — both require hand-strengthening squeezing. Also, consider including your child when you bake: squeezing dough, using a rolling pin, or gripping cookie cutters all develop the muscles of the hand.


3. Impulse Control

With larger class sizes and increased freedom, kindergarten students will shoulder more responsibility for keeping their hands to themselves and controlling their own impulses.

Practice at home:

There are many games that can help to hone self regulation — and kids will be so busy having fun, they won’t realize they’re practicing this skill. Try Simon Says; Red Light, Green Light; Duck, Duck Goose; or even Hide and Seek to give your child opportunities to practice staying still, moving when told, and keeping quiet when needed, according to The Pragmatic Parent (thepragmaticparent.com).


4. Fine Motor Skills

Fine motor skills become increasingly important in the kindergarten classroom, affecting many tasks including pencil grip and control — which have a large influence on developing handwriting.

Practice at home:

Plan activities that require the use of clothespins, clips, tongs and tweezers, according to the Inspired Treehouse (theinspiredtreehouse.com). They can be as simple as providing different colored or shaped objects — pieces of pipe cleaner, paper clips, small plastic toys, pom poms, etc. — and having your child sort them using one of the tools mentioned above.


5. Just Play

It has been cited in multiple studies that, at this age, children still learn best through play. Enjoy the remainder of your child’s last year of preschool — and the more relaxed schedule — and take advantage of the chance to build in added time for play.

Practice at home:

Don’t worry about teaching skills and just focus on fun. Play Therapy International (playtherapy.org) suggests any of the following: dramatic or role playing; masks and puppets; sand, slime or other sensory activities; art projects; and music, dance and movement activities. If you aren’t sure what to do, let your child take the lead in choosing an activity — just be ready to participate with enthusiasm, and you’ll both have fun.

About the author

Denise Koeth is managing/digital editor of Northeast Ohio Parent. She writes for and assists with production of the print magazine, as well as manages digital content on the NortheastOhioParent.com website and oversees the brand’s social media activity. Denise grew up in Northeast Ohio and she and her husband are currently raising their two boys here.

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