Saturday, February 28, 2009

Kindergarten Readiness 101

Welcome to the first in a series of blog entries about the monumental transition from pre-school to kindergarten! My name is Liz, owner of , etsymom team member and kindergarten teacher. I have been teaching for 11 years, 8 in kindergarten. I have my Masters in Education with a focus on the transition from pre-school to kindergarten and have been a supervisior of student teachers for the last 7 years. When I saw the request for people to contribute to the blog, I jumped at the chance to contribute!

Each month I will focus on one of the many important skills that children should have upon entering kindergarten, as well as ways to practice at home with little or no materials. Please remember, as with everything, each child is different and learns at a different pace. Although you will hear about standards (and yes, even 5 year olds have them!), but we also need to take into account if it is developmentally appropriate.

This month, I'm going to focus on a Listening and Speaking skill: listening to at least 2 directions without asking for clarification. Although this seems like a relatively simple skill, you would be amazed at how many children come to kindergarten unable to do this. I can't even count the number of times that I am expecting my students to do more than one task before they need to be ready to learn. Here are some examples: (1) after recess is over - please go in, get a drink of water and sit down on the carpet. (2) go to your desk, get out your math workbook and your favorite color crayon. (3) stand up, push in your chair and line up at the door to go to music.

It seems simple and yet even my smartest (he's reading at a second grade level) could not put his name on his paper without me literally standing over him... makes it quite difficult to get anything done :) Below is a game that you can play at home to help practice this skill. Not only will your child's kindergarten teacher be hugging you and thanking you, you'll be thanking yourself!!

Game: Simon Says (can also be Mommy Says or Daddy Says)

Objective: For children to practice single and multiple step directions

What You Need: Nothing!!

What To Do: Starting with one request, use the phrase "Simon Says" or other alternates to keep the request(s) fun. For example: say "Simon Says go get a book from your room." When your child has the book, (you'll have to follow them to the place you ask them to go when you are first starting the game) say something like "Go to the couch" and when they start to go, say something like, "Oh no, silly - I didn't say Mommys Says!!" Then say, "Mommy Says go to the couch". You can continue doing this until your child is confident completing single step directions.

Extensions: Continue the game with two or three step directions (more if your child wants a challenge). For example: Say things like "Mommy Says go get a book from your room and go to the couch" or "Daddy Says pick up your socks and put them in the laundry basket." For a little added fun, your child can be Simon! Even thinking in terms of multiple step directions will help your child to follow them with more ease and will give you a little extra help around the house!!

Enjoy the game and have fun! Come back at the end of March for another Listening and Speaking skill (we know how 4 year olds love to talk!!!): Reciting rhymes and songs!! Have a great March, etsymoms!! See you soon, Liz