How to Get Your Preschooler Ready for Kindergarten
Queue the tears.
Time has really flown by; and, boy can the remaining few weeks before school starts zoom by even faster.
Watch out! Blink, and you may miss out on getting your preschooler ready for kindergarten.
The more kiddos I have (I have 3), time goes, what seems to be, lightening speed. I make breakfast, do things for what I thought was for 10 minutes, look at the clock and it’s 4 pm.
So, it can happen.
Time seems lost and your preschooler is walking into kindergarten and you’re uncertain if he’s ready.
I don’t want that to happen to anyone. That’s terrifying.
But, mama. I want you to know, before we move on with this post, that you are doing an awesome job raising your preschooler.
You are here at this post, scouring the internet, for how to prep your preschooler for kindergarten.
Today, I want to go over a few things that will help get your preschooler ready for kindergarten. These steps are something you can start right now and that can get you started to helping your child have a successful year.
I want these steps to be easy for you, so you don’t get overwhelmed.
I have an entire Kindergarten-Ready Checklist of 95 skills to introduce to your preschooler before kindergarten. They’re more of the technical things they should be familiar with like math, language arts, science and history.
You can get that list HERE.
But, this list in this post are the simpler everyday things that can help you get started.
Download the Kindergarten-ready Checklist
The essential skills your preschooler should know prior to starting.
How to Get Your Preschooler Ready for Kindergarten
#1 Establish a Routine
It doesn’t have to be fancy. It can be as simple as: wake up, get dressed, read a book, eat breakfast, and brush your teeth in the morning. Then, do a puzzle, eat a snack, play outside, have lunch, and draw a picture for the afternoon. But, pick a routine and stick with it everyday.
Establishing a routine for preschoolers is important because they don’t yet have a concept of time in minutes and hours. They order their day by the events that happen in their environment. So, if the same things occur daily they will feel more secure and confident of the order of things that are going to occur for them.
Since a preschooler’s brain is still undergoing major development, routines help them with making simple predictions about the future and understanding the concepts of “before” and “after”.
Having a daily routine will help your preschooler establish more self control. When he is more familiar with the routine and is able to make those simple predictions about the future, he will know he has to wait for the next activity.
Plus, the more they do the same activity in the same environment, the more independent preschoolers become.
Understanding that there is a routine to follow everyday will help your preschooler be prepared for following a routine for kindergarten.
How do I start a routine with my preschooler?
Visual schedules work great when introducing a routine. Simply snap pictures of what your preschooler needs to do (like a picture of his bed made), print it out as a 4x6 photo, glue a blank flashcard on the bottom of it and label it: Make Bed. Do this with each task in his routine.
Clip up to 5 steps onto a piece of twine at eye level for your preschooler. Review the tasks with him showing the order (left to right). As a task is completed, have your preschooler remove it from the twine and put it in a basket.
If you don’t have time to make these, The Mama Workshop has some hand-illustrated visual schedule cards to use.
#2 Setup a Learning Area
You don’t need an entire room in your home to dedicate as a learning area.
An unused corner in your home will do.
You can also transform the coffee/kitchen table as the place you learn things. Or even layout a picnic blanket in the backyard where you do preschool activities.
Don’t stress too much about the learning area because your preschooler can learn wherever you decide to show up and teach him.
Just remember to establish a routine (step #1) and designate a time of day you learn and/or review skills.
What should I setup in the learning area?
- a little table and chair (if learning in a dedicated area inside)
- use a small lap desk (for learning outside)
- a box with a few craft supplies such as: construction paper, glue, scissors, crayons, cardboard, pipe cleaners, wiggly eyes, glitter, tape, feathers and pom poms.
- favorite books (display them on a small library shelf for your preschooler to easily grab)
- puzzles and blocks (for your preschooler to build things)
- a large plastic bin (for fun sensory and water activities)
This small list of things will help you get started with preparing your preschooler for some of the things he should be familiar with before kindergarten.
But, that’s not that much stuff. Don’t I need to hang learning materials and colorful things up on walls?
Oh no. Absolutely not.
Children remember what they create. So, if you stick alphabet cards up on the wall, they might like the colors and point them out; but, the letters won’t click.
But, give them a white piece of paper with the letter A written really big on it and ask them to glue/draw pictures of things that begin with A around the letter, they will remember the activity. They will remember, “I did that! I made that! That’s A!”
So, do that with each letter of the alphabet. Hang those on the wall at your preschooler’s eye level. So, he can look and touch it whenever he likes.
Do the same for colors, numbers, shapes, and the calendar.
Read more about this concept at Days with Grey.
But, I don’t want my preschooler’s art taking over my house!
No problem. I completely understand.
Do one letter, one number, one shape at a time.
Keep those up at your preschooler’s eye level (either on the fridge or your dedicated learning area). Once you move on to the next letter, number and shape, put the completed ones in a 3-ring binder in plastic sheet protectors.
Have a binder for letters, a binder for numbers and a binder for shapes. When it comes time to review these, your preschooler has a book he made. How exciting for him!
For added fun: have your preschooler help make the covers for the binders.
Setting up a learning area will prepare your preschooler for kindergarten by getting them use to learning things during the day.
#3 Read, Read and Read Some More
Reading aloud to your preschooler is so important.
It stimulates his imagination. It helps him understand the world around him and develop language and listening skills.
Reading aloud prepares your preschooler to understand that words are used to communicate thoughts, ideas, and things.
He doesn’t have to know how to read before kindergarten. But, being familiar with letters, that they each make their own sound(s), that they form together to make words, and words are used to express ideas (verbal and written), will help him to communicate with other adults and children.
Reading aloud to him will set him on a path to learning new things.
Here are a few of our favorite books to get your little library started:
- In My Heart by Jo Witek (to learn about emotions)
- Turtle Island by Kevin Sherry (to learn about friendship)
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (to learn the days of the week, counting and fruits and veggies)
- Not a Box by Antoinette Portis (to learn about imagination and creativity)
#4 Encourage Questions
One of the things kindergartners learn is that a large group of things can be broken down into smaller groups of things (it’s a math skill, but can be used for critical thinking).
What does this have to do with encouraging questions?
Instead of just reading a book to your preschooler and quickly flipping the page, look at the pictures together. A picture is a large group of things and can be broken down into smaller groups of things.
What is in the picture? What is going on in the picture? Look at each thing and ask questions about each thing.
So, for The Very Hungry Caterpillar, ask, “how many plums did the caterpillar eat? Let’s count them together. 1,2,3. The caterpillar ate 3 plums. What color are the plums? Purple! Have you tried a plum before? Where do plums come from?”
It strikes a conversation. It gets your preschooler thinking and asking questions about things.
The more you do this with each page of a book or things around your environment, the more likely your preschooler will asks questions too.
It may lead to your preschooler asking about electricity and how it works. It can lead to fun unit studies (which later I will walk you through how to create a unit study based on your preschooler’s interests).
Encourage the questions. Help him break it down into smaller steps. It will develop a love for learning new things and build upon his skills. It will help him eventually learn how to figure things out on his own.
#5 Play (with and without others)
When your preschooler plays, it’s not only fun for him, it’s important for his physical, emotional and cognitive development.
Through play, he interacts and engages with the world around him. It’s where he is most comfortable to try new skills that he has been learning.
It’s where he can use his imagination and become a fire fighter and pretend to do the things a fire fighter does. It can lead to more questions about fire fighters.
He will practice his counting with toys. He will notice things in his environment that relate to what he has been learning.
When he plays with others, he’s learning how to work with others. They take on roles and work as a team while playing.
It helps him learn how to work through conflicts and what to do when he has difficulty solving it on his own.
So, give plenty of opportunity for play. It’s your preschooler’s natural environment (where he feels most secure).
These are 5 simple things you can start doing today that will help get your preschooler ready for kindergarten. Remember to have fun with it all. Find the opportunities in everyday life that can be used for learning.
Point out letters in street signs, the numbers in a parking structure, the colors of flowers and plants during a walk. Remember your preschooler can learn wherever you decide to show up and teach him.
For a Kindergarten-Ready Checklist that walks you through what your preschooler should be familiar with before starting school, signup to get that HERE for free.