Gone are the days when Kindergarten was about nap time, nursery rhymes and singing the ABC’s. As a current public school teacher in Florida, I can say that Kindergartner expectations are on the rise! Since starting the state-funded Voluntary Pre-K program, schools have taken that as an opportunity to further just what our little five-year-olds can do. But whether your little one has spent their days at home with you, or in a classroom full of more littles, prepping for their first school year can be easier than you think!
As Summer break approaches, I know many moms are frantic to keep their child learning all through the season. Knowing just what your rising Kindergartner needs can be tough in the whirlwind of suggestions. While the alphabet and it’s sounds are more important than ever, there’s a ton of skills Kindergarten covers that many parents are unaware of. Here’s eight skills you can work on with your little one over the Summer, some of which may catch you by surprise!
Counting Words in a Sentence
It may seem like an obvious skill, one that many kids sort of just pick up on, but practice never hurts. Your Kindergartner will be given a sentence orally, and then be expected to count how many words were in that sentence. This can range from sentences with three words, all the way up to sentences with seven or eight words. Most often it’s a breeze, but words like “today” “orange” and “pretty” often get broken up into two words because they have multiple syllables. Also, expressions like “my cat” or “the dog” sometimes get smushed together as one word since little ones recite them so quickly. Start small and work your way up! When you introduce the skill, give them counters, blocks or even candy pieces to count the words as they hear them!
Examples: It is hot. The dog is brown. She is my best friend. They are not nice to me. My friends are at my house today.
Remember clapping for each syllable in a word, or putting your hand beneath your chin to count how many times it dropped? Yep, we still do that. You may be surprised to know that our early learners are actually expected to count words with up to four syllables, such as “elevator” and “computer.” Just like words in a sentence, start small. And rather than clapping each syllable, get movin’ and hop each syllable, high-five it, or karate kick it. Make it fun!
I’ve worked with plenty of students this past school year who really struggled with rhyming. Don’t worry if you’re rising Kindergartner doesn’t seem to master it, often times it “just clicks” later down the line so keep practicing. Since your little ones can’t read yet, use pictures of rhyming words for a more suitable lesson. First begin with do they rhyme or do they not, then work towards having your child create a rhyming pair.
Beginning and Ending Sounds
Top starts with /t/, pot starts with /p/, and mop starts /m/. Rub ends with /b/, ran ends with /n/, and rag ends with /g/. See what I’m getting at here? The best way to do this is by working it into your everyday routine. Is your little one getting in the tub? Work those beginning and ending sounds. Are you going for a ride in the car? Do it there, too! You don’t have to sit down and formally teach anything, the funnest way to learn is in action! If you want to further the skill, with each sound they recite talk about the letter it belongs to and draw it in the air.
Identify the Word That Doesn’t Belong
When given a list of three or four words, all but one will have something in common. Your soon-to-be Kindergartner will have to identify which word doesn’t belong to the group based on sounds. For example: mouse, map, train, movie. Three of the words begin with /m/ while one begins with /t/, and your little one will be expected to recognize that. When introducing this skill, try to group together physical objects for practice. With this strategy they won’t have to remember the words because they’ll have a visual right in front of them. Then they can physically group items and remove the correct choice.
One of the most basic skills your little one needs before diving in the world of mathematics is one-to-one correspondence. This means being able to match the number one to one single object. For instance, many children begin to memorize the order of numbers. But more importantly, they need to know that “one” means one raisin, and “two” means one raisin, and then another. Your child can practice this with literally anything – buttons, puzzle pieces, food, toy cars. And this is another skill that can be introduced to your daily routine. Are you opening a pack of gummies? Have your child count them one by one. Are you putting away the dozens of blocks scattered across the floor? Have your little one count them in groups of five.
Number Recognition 1-20
Counting is super important, but more than just reciting numbers is recognizing what they look like. As always start small, but remember to always review. First work with numbers 1 through 5. When your child is ready to move on, go to the next chunk of numbers. As you move forward, occasionally throw in previously learned numbers to reinforce the skill!
Skills other than academics may seem like the back-burner of Kindergarten readiness, but that isn’t always true. Lacking some of these abilities can actually lead to your Kindergartner taking longer to complete a piece of work, and missing what’s next in the day’s plan. Be sure to incorporate plenty of crafts into your Summer season to master the motor skills they will need in the coming school year. Scissors typically tend to be the trickiest of them all!
If you’re looking for activities and resources to help teach these skills, check out Teachers Pay Teachers! It’s intended for teachers, but anyone can make an account to access the items. It’s like a marketplace where teachers post and sell lessons they’ve created so others can also use them. There’s a ton of resources listed for free, and all you have to do is download the file and print each one.
And to the mommas who feel as heartbroken as I do about my biggest going to Kindergarten, this is a beautiful start to their greatest adventure of finding themselves. Just keep holding on tight and squeeze every bit of love out of them as you can. After all, every mommy-and-me and tots class was meant for this moment.