Kindergarten: Readiness & developing literacy at home

  • Written by Karen Pettersen

When kindergarten teachers ask about what they like to see in a well prepared kindergartener, it’s not how many letters and numbers they know. It’s how do they conduct themselves in a classroom? Can they make friends?Resolve social conflict? Participate in a group setting? Can they follow directions and stay on task?

These are the basics for a good beginning to formal education. Preparation for classroom readiness is most likely to occur in a classroom format.  Enrolling your young child in a toddler group or preschool is your first step. There are many great programs to choose from.

To create interest in literacy at home, model reading and writing. Let them draw scribbles that look like writing such as having them add “their words” to a letter to grandma.  Even if they can’t write yet, if you have them mimic writing and then ask them what it says, they absorb the idea that you can communicate through writing. Reading in front of them and to them is the most powerful thing you can do.  Read good stories that capture their imagination and create a desire to read themselves. Play letter games:  “Your name starts with a J.  It looks like a fish hook. Let’s find Js while we’re driving, on menus, etc.”  Make it fun and don’t force it on children at this age.  A very young child who is forced to learn past their natural interest level learns to dislike learning and shuts down.

When do you worry about the kid who doesn’t like homework or writing?   First grade.  First grade is when study habits and work ethics need to be modeled and enforced. Good study habits take a long time to develop, and parents need to set the stage for their children’s success by being tuned into their child’s homework and study expectations at school.  Parents also need to follow up to make sure that children are meeting those expectations on a regular basis.

Assign times for your children to do their homework after school. Set up a place for them to work and make sure the TV is turned off.  Don’t schedule too many extra curricular activities that sabotage their time/energy/focus from completing their school work. Be available to help, but at all costs, don’t do it for them.

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