When your baby becomes a toddler and your toddler starts preschool, it can bring on a lot of emotion. Bottles and diapers are replaced by skinned knees and adventures. It seems overnight, your sweet baby looks like a full-fledged child. You have researched and found the best ways to keep your baby happy, healthy and growing. Now it’s time to prepare your budding 5-year-old for kindergarten.
You can do many learning activities to get your kids ready for kindergarten. Many of them also take up a few minutes a day and are so crucial to their development. From a schedule to reading and learning friendliness, these activities are easy for your 4-year-old to understand. Keep reading to learn more ways to help your child prepare for school. There’s even a bonus tip for big emotions about transition for you and your child.
1. Get on a schedule
When school starts, your child should get up and get ready at the same time Monday through Friday. Many fights and tears are shed in the morning to get out the door. Start practicing early and step up to a scheme so it’s no surprise when school starts. Establish a regular bedtime and routine each night. For example, take a bath, brush your teeth, put on pajamas, read, and go to bed at 8 p.m. every night.
2. Practice letters, numbers and words
Working with your child on educational activities sets them up for success in the classroom. It gives them a head start in recognizing some of the key elements they will be exposed to in preschool. Practice counting and recognizing numbers. Practice letters and sight words. At home, use flash cards or a chalkboard and easel. You can even start writing their name so they know that word first.
3. Read every day
Since you’re already working on a daily schedule, add reading to the list. Reading every day is actually one of the most important things you can do through a learning activity. It helps foster the love of reading through connection because you model it as something you do and enjoy. Hearing stories, looking at the words and seeing the accompanying pictures also strengthens your child’s language and reading skills. Stories can also help children learn appropriate behaviors for different situations through their favorite characters.
4. Identify colors
Part of your child’s early development is being able to identify colors. Start casually identifying colors in normal conversation with your child. It can be as simple as phrases like, “Would you like to wear your purple or yellow shoes today?” While holding them up, your child can point to them. They will begin to associate the color with the object. You can do this with many things in their environment.
5. Work on puzzles and blocks
turn off the tablet, limit screens, and let the kids work on tactile fun. Puzzles, building blocks and even Legos will help your child develop his logical skills. They learn through trial and error how the pieces fit together. Shape sorting blocks and puzzles help your child learn shapes and also help with spatial awareness. Help them identify their names as you play too.
6. Learning emotional regulation
Help your little ones learn emotional regulation. This is a skill that is also largely modeled, so work on your own emotional regulation as well. Help them work on using healthy coping strategies for big feelings. You can teach them how to talk about their feelings and show them that their feelings are valid. Work on empathy and how to treat others kindly.
7. Gain Independence
Part of going to kindergarten is becoming a big kid. They are doing more and more things on their own, apart from you. Work with them to gain independence. Allowing them to feed themselves at lunch and go to the bathroom on their own is a start. Entrusting them with more chores will also boost their confidence for school.
8. Develop self-care skills
Just like gaining independence, work with your kids on developing self-care skills and being healthy to use. Good hygiene is part of this. Two big things are washing your hands after going to the bathroom and not picking your nose. Covering your mouth when you cough is also important. Brushing their teeth and learning to bathe independently are also good skills as part of their routine.
9. Take responsibility
Learning to take responsibility is a huge life skill. In fact, it is one that continues to build throughout life. If your child gets into trouble, teach him how to admit his mistake. Responsibility extends beyond that; teach them that they are responsible for their actions and words. Being kind and doing what you say you’re going to do are too big things for little kids to work on. They can also be responsible for their belongings and keep track of their own shoes and backpacks.
10. Know your phone number
One way to set your child up for success is to make sure they know mom and dad’s real names. In case of an emergency, it may be useful for those responsible to know their own name and their parents. Also work with them on remembering one of your phone numbers. That way they can tell a trusted adult if they need to contact you. You can also put your contact details and name in the backpack for extra help. Let them know it’s there should a teacher or bus driver also need it.
11. Recognize and name body parts
As a parent, you never want to think about something happening to your children. However, a little prevention can help in potentially nefarious situations. Teach your children the correct names for their body parts to help you tell when something hurts. This is important if they cry after falling off the swing. And it is also important in establishing limits on body parts and appropriate touch.
12. Acknowledging change
Change is hard for both short people and big people. Don’t just take your child to school and tell him everything will be fine. They may have great feelings about the change – excitement, fear, and sadness are all valid things to feel. Let them know that you also have big feelings about your baby getting bigger. When they see mom and dad having multiple feelings at once and processing the changes, they know how to do that too.
As your big toddler stands in front of you, flashes of them like a baby are likely to flood your brain. The old saying, the days are long but the years are short, is so true. Take advantage of the time you have before school starts to set them up for success. Even if your child is going to school in the fall, you can get started with the skills in this article. And if your child is a toddler, you can start now.
After all, there is no such thing as learning too much. Make these activities a priority. Most of them take a few minutes a day and can make a huge shift in their development and maturity. Help your child go to school the right way. The school wants your child to be happy, healthy and continue to grow and learn, just like you.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Alexander Dummer; Pexels; Thank you!
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