News of the San Gabriel Valley since 1966.

Fun Kindergarten Preparedness

Karla and Jade working on kindergarten preparedness.

By Sean Telles

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San Gabriel Valley –

Summer is ending and maybe your children are returning to school. But if you have a toddler who has yet to start Kindergarten, here are some tips to ensure success in kindergarten preparedness without turning your child off to learning.

Talk with your children. You need to encourage children to express themselves.  It might not feel like you are doing much, but communication and social skills must be learned. Not only are you building self-awareness, but you are also building your children’s confidence to communicate with other children and make friends. This also helps with everyday needs such as classroom etiquette, for example, raising their hand to ask to go to the bathroom without being afraid.

Read to your children 20 minutes a day.  The benefits of reading to children are endless, and with FIRST 5 Mendocino’s free book program – the Imagination Library – any child under 5 can receive monthly free books mailed to their home.  Reading with your toddler helps build vocabulary, introduces the love of reading, pulls children away from digital screens, and helps develop the brain, body, and emotions through increased lap time and parent-child interactions.

Play “taking turn” games. Sharing is a hard concept to understand – even for adults. The concept of taking turns is easier to understand and a great gateway towards sharing. It’s very important for children starting school to understand not everything belongs to them for as long they want. Use cooperative play at home, with activities like completing a puzzle or building a block tower, and emphasize the idea of taking turns.

Count everyday things. By the first day of kindergarten most children should know how count to ten. Anyone who’s watched Count von Count on Sesame Street knows counting can be blast, so have some fun with your child counting. Count everyday objects around the house like dishes or dolls, or even count piggies on fingers and their toes. When you incorporate this into your daily routine, you are giving your child a great way to feel good about numbers, which can one day translate to calculus.

What’s my name again? When children enter kindergarten, they need to be able to spell and write their name. Teaching this might sound a bit daunting at first, but there are fun and easy ways to start the process. For example, you can create word games that associate the letters in their name with certain objects. “S” is for snake. “E” is for an elephant talking to the snake; snake starts with what letter again? You can also develop fine motor skills, important for holding a pencil, by having children picking up little pieces of cereal or enjoying the consistency of play dough.

No, really, what’s my name again? Listening is a skill that can be taught and improved, and is important for learning. Additionally, children will learn more when they are actively engaged in listening to their teachers. A nice way parents can encourage listening skills is to occasionally ask their children to repeat back instructions, or to give them multistep directions, such as getting their jacket and putting their shoes on. Also, don’t forget fun games like Simon Says and Red Light Green Light, which encourage listening and following instruction.

Follow these tips and the children in your life can be a little closer to kindergarten preparedness.  How to prepare a parent for their child going to kindergarten, however, is a whole other matter entirely.

“Sean Telles is an AmeriCorps VISTA serving with FIRST 5 Mendocino as a Social Entrepreneur. You can email him for comments or suggestions at These tips were taken from First 5 California, First 5 Contra Costa, First 5 Los Angeles, and FIRST 5 Mendocino.”

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News of the San Gabriel Valley since 1966.
Fun Kindergarten Preparedness