Guest Post by Kristin of Kindergarten Monkey Business
As a kindergarten teacher, I always get asked, “What does my child need to know before they come to kindergarten?” Although this question most often arises at kindergarten orientation, it needs to be addressed at the moment of birth. So, instead of answering this question of parents of kindergarten students-to-be, I have to answer their questions with a round of my own questions at which point they will know how their child’s start to school will likely evolve:
- Have you read to your child on a regular basis since she or he was born and talked about these books?
- Have you provided life experiences to your child on a regular basis (trips to the grocery store, rides on a train, a visit to the apple orchard and the library)?
- Have you had discussions with your child about the world around them?
- Have you encouraged your child to ask questions and explore things they may be unsure of or things that they are excited about?
- Have they had opportunities to socialize with groups of children their age throughout their first years of life?
- Have you allowed them to cut, glue, draw, color and create on a regular basis?
- Have you allowed them to make choices and decisions on their own, but also provided them with boundaries?
- Have you made it clear that they are a very special child, but not the only special child in the world?
- Have you told your child that you loved them and hugged them every day of their life?
If a parent’s answer to most of these questions is affirmative, then they can generally expect an easy transition for their child as she or he enters into kindergarten. They can expect that their child has been given a solid foundation of language and real life experiences that can be built upon rapidly and easily. The children whose parents can immediately say yes to my list of questions are the children who are well-prepared for kindergarten and are, typically, the children who flourish in kindergarten and throughout their entire educational career. Unfortunately, there are many who have to sheepishly answer no (or at least know in their head that the answer is no to many or all of my questions) and the children of those parents do not typically have an easy start to kindergarten and are playing catch up throughout most of their education. No matter how good a kindergarten teacher is or how smart a “no” kindergarten student is, it is very difficult to regain those years and years of lacking experiences and being properly nurtured and exposed. So, be sure to pass this article on to any and all parents about to have their first child so that they know what they are doing in their child’s first few years of life will get their unborn child the start they deserve.
Written By Kristin, longtime kindergarten teacher, mom of 6 and 4 year old boys and author of Kindergarten Monkey Business.