By Ryan C. Miller

Your child will kindergarten soon, but are they ready? Even the most confident parents are still likely to have a few worries about their children going from preschool to kindergarten.

So should you start your five year old on a strict schedule of reviewing letters and numbers every day for hours on end to make sure they are as prepared as possible? Not quite. Here are some fun ideas to make sure your child is good to go to the big K.

  1. Make the learning FUN!

Your child will have plenty of time once they get into grade school and beyond to put in some real hours cramming for tests and writing papers. So, pump the brakes on the boring flashcard sessions and instead use this early stage in their life to spark the curiosity bug.

One of the most important things you can do for your young child ahead of kindergarten is get them excited about learning. Make it less of a chore and more of an exciting experience. For them, mastering tasks and filling their brains with new information is still a fresh feeling that brings plenty of good feelings and confidence, so run with that—allow them to have fun while also gaining knowledge.

So instead of the flashcards, try a fun and spontaneous game that incorporates the same topics and information. After all, children learn through…

  1. PLAY!

That’s right! It might look like it’s all fun and games when your child is building with blocks or dressing up as a fisherman to pretend to catch fish in the bathtub. During play, they’re actually gaining a tremendous amount of information and mastering new skills.

Things like problem solving, spatial awareness, number recognition, fine motor development (and more!) are key skills needed to succeed and that can be learned through play. Don’t be afraid to engage with your child while they’re creating their latest masterpiece with Legos or making countless Play-Doh pancakes. One of the best things you can do is to simply ask questions about what they’re working on. The “who, what, where, when, why” method is perfect for taking their play to the next level. 

  1. Explore new places

While playing is key to helping your child learn and prepare for kindergarten, it’s also important for them to move and explore the world. For local Cincinnati families, there are plenty of places where your child will not only have a blast, but also learn. Consider the Cincinnati Zoo, Cincinnati Museum Center (The Children’s Museum), Smale Riverfront Park or Rosenthal Education Center at the Cincinnati Art Museum. Each are free or have discount tickets available. Also, don’t forget about your local public library, which is always a gem because something that really helps your child get prepared for kindergarten is…

  1. Reading to them!

Reading aloud to your soon-to-be kindergartener is so important. A lot of parents wonder, ‘how do I get my child to start reading?’  The best thing to kick off that journey is to read to them, a lot. This is something that you can start as early as possible and just make a normal thing in their life. Being around books and words and letters does wonders for a child’s early reading skills. So read to them, and read often.

  1. Interact with friends and practice independence

Here are two things that kind of go hand-in-hand. During preschool, your child likely got a good amount of social interaction and plenty of practice doing tasks independently. But don’t stop now! While your child is at home, make sure they’re still getting some quality social interaction with other children. Also, make sure there are opportunities for your child to do tasks by themselves. This will help grow their self-confidence and prepare them for the next big step: kindergarten!

 

Ryan C. Miller is a lead teacher at Cincinnati Early Learning Center in Price Hill. He will be sharing insight into early learning, as well as stories from local families and preschools.