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Starting School: Welcome to Kindergarten: Tips for the Kindergarten-Bound
Your little one is headed to Kindergarten. This is an exciting and emotional time for everyone involved. You're keeping her or him interested in the new school year and the new friends on the horizon. And, most importantly, you're wondering what you can do to help your child make the best possible start to his or her school career.
It can be difficult for some children to meet new people. Daniel, a young friend of mine, recently met a new friend at the beach who will be in his Kindergarten class in the fall. When asked how the meeting went, he told his mother, "Good, but he did not really talk to me." That led Daniel and his mom to a discussion about making new friends.
They talked about the fact that some kids are a little shy.
"If you talk to shy kids first or ask them to play, it can make it easier for them to be your friend," Daniel's mother told him. "That way, they're able to see that you're nice. Once they know you a little better, they'll talk more and you'll be glad you put in the effort to be their friend."
After the talk, Daniel's mom began looking around the park for children about his age. This led her to many opportunities to meet new parents, and her efforts led Daniel to meet some future classmates before school begins.
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE
This is the perfect time to channel the family's energy into a variety of positive and useful activities that can help a new scholar shine in the classroom. Many Kindergarten skills can be practiced during the summer months. This prep time will enable your young learner to build confidence as she or he develops and hones the skills that will be needed in the classroom.
Work with your child on learning letter names and sounds, recognizing and writing letters, and writing his or her own name using upper and lower case letters.
Rhyming games can be a big help as youngsters learn to work with words. You can find these types of games in books, online, and on television. You can even make them up yourself.
Blending and segmenting words can help young learners take their understanding of words and sounds to a new level. Try a little rhyme such as "Listen, listen to my word, tell me all the sounds you heard... b-a-d... what's the word?" The adult can say the sounds; the child can put the sounds together to make the word. Some Kindergarten educators stretch their hands like a rubber band as each sound is said.
You can help your youngster learn about syllables by clapping out the syllables in a word. The word pickle, for example, has two syllables and two claps.
Encourage word play. Play the "I'm thinking of a word..." game with your child. For example, "I'm thinking of a word that starts with b. It's something that you sleep on." (The answer: bed.)
Play the "missing letter" game. Say words without all of their letters. For example, dog without the d is og. You can delete the first sound or last sound of a word. You can also change the beginning, middle, or ending sound of a word. For example, change the beginning sound in hat to m. The word is now mat.
Summer is also a good time to begin and encourage journal writing. Children at this age won"t be able to write many words yet, but they should be urged to get their ideas down on paper. By the end of the school year, they will be writing full sentences.
Drawing projects can accompany the journaling exercises. At this age, the pictures should have details; the people should have all body parts and the pictures should have a setting. In terms of development, the details appear in a child"s pictures first and then appear in his or her writing at a later stage.
Kindergarten students will need to know the numbers 1 through 100 by the end of the school year. The summer months are the perfect time to work on the numbers 1 to 30 to help youngsters develop the ability to recognize and write these numbers.
Let your child test herself by practicing writing numbers in order as high as she can go. She can chart her progress with stickers and other incentives.
This is also a good time to help children improve their skills at matching an item or a number of items to the appropriate number, building and demonstrating an understanding of one-to-one correspondence.
-- Kathie Felix Kathie Felix writes about education for a variety of national news media outlets.