Kindergarten is an exciting time in a child’s life. For many children, it is the first time they will spend away from the familiarity of the home environment.
Kindergarten is where habits, friendships, and lasting lessons are first formed. What action steps can parents, grandparents, and siblings take to help a child prepare for this new season of life?
1. Pray and sing together
It may seem like simple task, but even in its simplicity, it can often be forgotten. As soon as children learn to speak, they can also learn to pray and sing. Invite the child to join in prayers before meal times or at bedtimes, even if they just add a few words at first. Also, sing together! Simple tunes, like Mary, Mary Quite Contrary or Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush implicitly teach a child language, rhythm and rhyme. The poetic language and singsong style shape a child’s diction as well. Such songs can be sung when doing chores, riding in the car, or waiting in the grocery store. The camaraderie of singing a song together can foster delight in otherwise mundane moments.
2. Read aloud at home
To foster a true, lifelong love of reading, a child’s first encounter with literature should not be in a classroom, but at home. Read whenever there is an opportunity- at breakfast, between naps, in the evenings. Encourage a child’s voracious reading habits by allowing him or her to “read” independently and communely. The patience, attentiveness, and reading comprehension gained through regular reading cannot be measured! Also, model the behavior you want to foster in your own child by allowing your children to find you with your nose in a book!
3. Memorize together
God designed children between the ages of 5-12 are to have an extremely elastic memory. Since they will mimic and imitate the actions and speech of the other people in their lives, encourage them to memorize the scripture, poetry, and lessons that will serve them for their whole lives! A simple place to start is with the Psalms, most notably Psalm 1, 8, 23, and 100. Some delightful poems for pre-Kindergarten aged children are “Caterpillar” by Christina Rossetti, “A Year’s at the Spring” by Robert Browning, or “Four Things” by Henry Van Dyke.
4. Foster independence
In addition to fostering a love of reading, singing and memorization, encourage your child to learn to do things independently, whether that means picking out an outfit for the day, tidying up his or her play space, doing small chores, or making a simple snack. In a kindergarten classroom, your child will not always have the full attention of the teacher, and must be able to work or play independently without fuss.
A child's experience in kindergarten foster learning habits for the rest of his educational experience, so it is essential to prepare him for a successful first year!