Parents these days put so much pressure on themselves. We spend so much time worrying if our kids have learned enough in the years leading up to school. We get so caught up in teaching our kids to read and count before kinder, it’s exhausting. For us and them. I admit, I’m just as guilty of this as the next mom. I struggle to find the happy medium of wanting to give my kids the best foundation for their education, and letting kids be kids before the school bell rings on their preschool years.
As a former elementary teacher, I’ll admit that it’s wonderful if kids walk through the door having the basics under their belt: counting, sounding out words, identifying shapes and letters, etc. But, a kindergarten teacher’s main focus is academics, and sadly there isn’t enough time for teaching basic social skills. It helps a great deal if kids come well equipped in that department.
Kindness, social skills in general, and self-help skills are so important, and actually help the kids better grasp the academics if they have certain skills mastered by the first day of school. There are things you can do in your every day routine at home that help really with what kids need to know before they go to school.
Things that aren’t on the lesson plan
Students should know how to…
1. Begin the day with confidence and a positive attitude.
2. Set goals…and identify manageable steps to reach them.
3. Problem solve. Try not to solve every problem for them. Ask them questions to lead them to solving problems for themselves.
4. Be silly…But know the proper time and place for it.
5. Learn from their mistakes. Understanding that from mistakes, kids learn and gain confidence.
6. Use their imagination. A lot of assignments give children an opportunity to let their imagination take the lead, and have their individual talents shine through.
7. Be creative. Know there is not always one way of doing things. Children need to know it’s ok to think outside the box. Praise your child’s efforts in curiosity and creativity.
8. Navigate playground equipment independently
9. Tie their own shoe laces. Or use velcro. Why are kids’ shoe laces always wet? Yuck!
10. Manage bathroom breaks independently (including washing hands).
11. Open lunch containers. Lunchrooms are madness! There’s just not time in the lunch schedule to help each kid open things in their lunchbox. Practice at home before school, and send food items and containers your kids have already mastered on their own.
12. Clean up after themselves. Being aware of their surroundings, and helping children understand the importance of picking up and leaving things better than they found them.
13. Be responsible for their belongings. Keeping up with their supplies, lunchbox, and backpack.
Interacting with others
14. Say no…when they feel uncomfortable
15. Say yes…to trying new things, positive environments, and friendly interactions with others.
16. Be a friend. Teach kids to be aware of others’ feelings and set an example of how to reach out and do kind things for other. Noticing how others are feeling.
17. Calmly explain their feelings. Help children identify and label their feelings and set an example of expressing them in a positive manner.
18. Ask for help. Encourage children to admit when they don’t understand, and ask the teacher for clarification.
19. Stand up for themselves. Teach them that there is a polite and positive way to set boundaries for themselves.
20. Introduce themselves. Teach them to make eye contact and use their first and last name.
21. Keep hands to themselves. Knowing and respecting the personal space of others.
22. Speak to adults. Practice at restaurants by letting your child telling the waiter their order. Help them to identify the proper volume of their voices. Teach by example showing kids how to make while listening to them speak. Encourage your kids to talk about their experiences. This helps to expand their vocabulary and gain confidence.
23. Use manners. Please, thank you, taking care of classroom items, and waiting their turn.
Safety and Hygiene
24. Call home. A big safety skills is knowing their parents contact information, home address and phone number in case of emergency.
25. Cover their sneezes & general hygiene. Classrooms can be a breading ground for germs! Help your kids stay well by showing them proper ways to contain their germs.