What Should Kids Know Before Kindergarten

Understanding Child Development Aids in Kindergarten Prep

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This article is primarily to help parents understand the developmental stages children go through before entering school. A good understanding of child development will help you and your child prepare for his first school experience. The interactions between parent and child and the experiences you give your child all provide important background knowledge for your child to draw on at school.

These kids are developing independence and pushing boundaries. This is the age where language development becomes so important. Through language children will be able to express their feelings, desires and communicate effectively with adults and peers.

The process can be frustrating, often resulting in temper tantrums.  Distraction is usually the best way to shorten tantrums or better yet, prevent them when you know one is building!!!

The development of language means that our kids can tell us what they want. It’s important that we listen and when possible accommodate their wishes. If Janeen want the blue pyjamas instead of the red ones, that’s easy. But if she wants to ride her trike with no helmet, that’s not allowed.

Children engage in ‘Parallel Play’ at this age. This can be seen as they play next to each other but do not hold conversations. They will often play side by side and observe what the other is doing. They do not understand the concept of sharing a toy! Solitary play and play with an adult are still very important. This is also the time the important, ‘windows of learning’ are opening up.

Picture books with more detail are recommended for this age. Children can listen to stories read to them and begin to answer questions using the pictures, “What is the cat doing?”

At this stage non-rhyming text is just as important as rhyming text.  Listening to stories over and over again builds their vocabulary and allows them to practice. That is why they will tell you when you have missed a page or word! This is a very good sign that they are committing the text to memory.

Visits to the library are extremely important from this stage. Children need a wide variety of books and need to begin choosing some of their own story books along with adult guidance.

This is a good age to teach your child colours, names of basic shapes, numbers one to five and the letters in their name. There are so many ways to do this, e.g. the environment, books, puzzles, blocks and art activities, to name a few.

At this age writing tools should be introduced. Markers, crayons, paints and chalk are all great art media to help develop your children’s fine motor control needed for writing. Place the writing utensil in your child’s hand with a tri-pod grip. If they learn this from the start writing becomes an easy task. Children who arrive at school with an unsuitable pencil grip have great difficulty with writing tasks. The habit is very hard to undo!

Language development is paramount at this age. Dress-ups and puppets inspire imaginative play and great use of language.

Imaginative play will often be based on modeling what children see around them. For instance, household toys for kitchen/cooking, doll houses, cars, trucks, garages, building sites, gardening tools, buckets and shovels, are all items children can relate to. They will mimic what they see an adult doing and build language associated with all these things along the way.

Give your children experiences in the local community and on public transport. Play groups are an ideal way to meet other families and children. It is important children interact with other children to get used to such settings. Parallel Play comes before Associative Play and is a necessary stage for all children. The Associative Play stage can be reached by some children by age three. The play is still mostly independent but includes some interaction with another child through talking, borrowing and taking turns.

This series contains examples of ways we can help our children to be ready for school when the time comes.

The trick is to connect with your child at all ages and watch for the teachable moment. When you are walking by a fire hall and see that the firefighters are there working on the trucks, pay a visit. They will welcome your child and the child will be ecstatic.

Watch for opportunities for them to do something for themselves. Let them pull on their pants, go downstairs or put some laundry in the hamper.

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