Amy Kilpatrick Mascott is the creator of teachmama.com, where since 2008, she has shared tools and resources parents can use to become the best teachers they can be for their children. A Reading Specialist, writer, and literacy consultant, Amy’s work has been featured on dozens of online and print publications, including Scholastic Parents, PBS Parents, readwritethink.org, PBS Digital Studios, and more. Amy is a former high school English teacher who has truly expanded the walls of classroom, sharing her expertise at local and national events. She offers more tips in her article How to Prepare Your Children For Kindergarten.
“Kids should know their stuff by elementary school. If they don’t know their whole name–first, middle, and last–then start on that pronto! They don’t need to spell the whole thing, but your child needs to know that he’s Travis J, or Travis Johnson, not to be confused with Travis K, Travis O, or Travis W.” Mascott advises that your kids be able to know their full name, address, and phone number by the time they are going into kindergarten. This information that adults don’t even think about, is important for kids to know in cases of emergency. Knowing those three simple things can make a world of difference.
“We really cannot read too much to our kids. We can’t. Reading can–and should–be done throughout the day, in a number of ways and not just reserved for before bedtime when everyone’s beat and you can hardly keep your eyes open. Reading about back to school. Reading the newspaper. Reading street signs, reading cereal boxes, reading the words on their Wii games. Making reading fun. Talking about words and celebrating words.” This may seem like an obvious thing for some, but illiteracy is still a problem in the U.S. Starting your kids off with an interest in reading can afford them an easier transition into school, comprehension, and retention. These suggestions will make reading fun for your kids.
“Including math in your everyday activities or newspaper reading; counting money and skip counting; playing with numbers and number words; pulling out the ole grid games; reading some math-poetry; playing with number boxes.” Whether you are a math whiz or struggled through algebra, your kids need to know how important numbers are. They don’t need to master calculus before they start school, but they should be able to count to 10 and above, and recognizing numbers.
“It’s so important for kids to have at least one familiar face when they walk into the building, but I am well aware that that is not always possible. I do know though, that at this point in time, so many communities have online message boards that help with the organization of a summertime playdate.” Social skills will affect how your children learn and develop other skills. Creating opportunities for them to interact with other children and adults will have an impact on their experiences at school. While every child isn’t a social butterfly, it is important for them to start developing relationships outside of their family.
“I totally despise this ‘life lesson’ but it has to be taught–over and over and over. Watching The Safeside: Stranger Safety DVD with the kids and being informed myself was all we did, have done, and plan to do. It’s a great reminder for all of my kids.” The safety of your kids is always your top priority. Getting them to socialize and recognize their classmates and teachers is good, but can also help them recognize potential strangers. Talk to them about best practices on staying safe is hard but necessary.