Readiness for Kindergarten: Your Child's Mind
It may surprise you to know that your child will learn to read, write, and compute as well as to cut, skip, and share.
How Can I Help My Child Grow Intellectually?
There are so many enjoyable ways you can support your kindergartner as he acquires these new skills! You are, after all, his most important teacher.
Here are some suggestions:
- Challenge him to find different ways that numbers are used at home. These could include telephone books, measuring cups, calendars, clocks, house numbers, and scales.
- Explore shapes together. Learn about circles, squares, cylinders, and rectangles by opening boxes and by examining dishes, baking tins, and the contours of the cupboard itself for shapes.
- Make a conscious effort to listen to your child, and help him learn to listen, too.
- Take a listening walk together. Point out quiet or loud sounds. Help him determine where the sounds came from. On the way home, see how many different sounds the two of you can remember.
First and foremost, however, read to and with your child and have him read to you. Reading is the essential foundation upon which all other skills are built.
By the time children complete kindergarten, they should know the parts of a book and their functions. They should begin to distinguish various forms and purposes of print, from personal letters and signs to storybooks.
Children come to kindergarten with a variety of experiences, and the teacher accepts each child at his unique stage of development and helps him develop the essential building blocks of literacy so he will be successful in first grade.
How Can I Help My Child Become a Reader?
There are so many enjoyable activities you can do together to help "grow" his literacy skills:
- Help him notice that words on a page are read from left to right and top to bottom. Show him that words are separated by spaces and that the end of a line is not always the end of a thought.
- Help him understand that anything spoken can be written. For example, have him think of a title for a picture he drew, and write it for him.
- Help him see that books are important to his life. Let him choose books on subjects that interest him. Encourage him to retell or dramatize stories or parts of stories, and take part in the action yourself.
- Help him develop the knowledge and vocabulary he will need to become a successful reader. Take him to interesting places and watch his reaction. Give him a chance to describe what he has seen. This should lead to a lively discussion about food and farming and give you an opportunity to introduce new words such as "tractor" and "plow."
- Make reading an interactive process. Have him ask his own questions about the story and answer the ones you ask. Encourage him to follow the story with movement and mime. Draw his attention to forms of print such as punctuation, the space around words, and placement of the title.
- When you finish a book, have him tell you what happened first, in the middle, and last. Ask how he felt about the story, and why.
- Discuss the pictures in books and ask him to predict what will happen next.
- Help him observe how much you love language by putting expression and passion in your voice. Want to hear an example? The next time you take your child to the library for story hour, notice how animated the librarian is as she reads.
- Help him to become a good listener. Try 30 seconds of silence. Then have him tell you what he hears. A car down the street? A bird chirping? His baby sister crying?
- Help him develop his vocabulary by asking such questions as "What is another word that means the same as this word?" and then using that word in the conversations you have with him.
Celebrate his progress!