Summer has just started, so why am I writing about the end of summer already?
While I hate to write about summer’s end so soon, for some parents the end of summer marks a new and exciting beginning—Kindergarten!
In Alberta, children who are four years of age, on or before March 1, may register in Kindergarten for the 2018-19 school year.
Whether you’re a first time parent or a seasoned one, this time of year comes with many hopes and fears for your little ones, who themselves are hardly bigger than the backpacks they carry.
But you know what parents? You have done a great job in preparing them for this day, and your children likely have most of the skills they need to be successful as they start school. However, why not take the opportunity to spend the next couple of months practicing some of these skills, and maybe introduce a few new ones.
SUMMER ACTIVITIES THAT PREPARE YOUR CHILDREN FOR KINDERGARTEN:
1. Sidewalk chalk
Writing doesn’t have to be inside on a piece of paper with a pen. Make it fun by getting some sidewalk chalk and heading outside! Make sure you get the big sidewalk chalk—they are easier to grip, while regular chalk sticks break too easily. Have your children write their name or the alphabet on the sidewalk.
2. Go on a picnic
Bring a deck of letter flashcards with you and play alphabet “Go Fish.” You could also count flowers, trees, or insects. Nature provides us with endless learning materials.
3. Scavenger hunt
Kids are multi-modal learners, which means they learn best when they can use all of their senses. Make a colours and shapes scavenger hunt and go for a walk. In this kind of activity, your children use body movement, sight, sound, smell, and laughter. Bonus: they can carry their backpacks to collect their treasures.
4. Quiet time
On a rainy day, or an extremely hot day, you may find yourself sitting indoors. Find a pair of child-safe scissors and practice cutting play dough. To make the task more difficult, give your children some old magazines and make a collage of things they like about summer.
Make reading a part of your daily routine. This can be done at any time during the day, inside or outside. Let the kids pick which book they would like to read and follow along with your finger as you read to them. Try picking up The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn— it’s for children starting school or separating from their parents for the first time.
6. Go to the playground
Earlier I had mentioned your children likely have many skills needed for Kindergarten already. I will assume this summer won’t be your first time at the playground. Playgrounds are perfect settings for developing social skills. Allow your children to play on their own and alongside other children, and step in when they need help assessing their feelings and problem-solving. Or play with them! Model confidence in tackling the ‘big’ slide or take turns going across the monkey bars. Invite other children to play a round of grounders with you and your little ones.
Sing some songs with your children as you walk or play outside. Rhymes are a good way to practice sounds and follow simple directions. Try “Open Shut Them” (see below) and “Old McDonald.”
8. Make a chore chart
Chore charts have many uses. Try making one that incorporates their school day morning routine. You could include things such as: brush your teeth; get dressed; have breakfast; and put on your shoes and coat. I like these because you get to put what you need your children to do on the chart, and they get to complete it with a sticker or another type of marker. Start practicing the routine before school starts.
You are probably practicing some of these skills already. Just keep it fun and don’t make it stressful for you or your children. Remember, you will always be their best and favourite teacher. Have a great summer and we hope to see you in the fall when all of our programs start up again. Mark your calendar to check the Centre for Family Literacy website in late summer to find a fun program for your 0-6 year old.
Open Shut Them
Open shut them, open shut them
Give a little clap (clap clap)
Open shut them, open shut them
Place them on your lap
Shake them, shake them, shake them, shake them
Shake them just like this (shaking hands)
Place your hands upon your lips
And blow a great big kiss